Remembering Louis Golding & Maisie Mosco – Manchester Jewish Museum
The Jewish Museum – a former synagogue in the outskirts of Manchester – was a magnificent setting to host this event, lending the occasion an ambient backdrop in which to discuss the featured authors.
It was hosted by author, Sherry Ashworth, as a remembrance and celebration of the works of Louis Golding and Maisie Mosco, perhaps the most famous writers to emerge from the Manchester Jewish community. It added a nice touch to discover that several of the late Ms Mosco’s own family members and friends were present to add their own personal memories.
Sherry Ashworth echoed the sentiments of other writers by describing herself as ‘a writer who happens to be Jewish’ rather than ‘a Jewish writer’ but admits that, just like Golding and Mosco, her heritage is integral to her work. She gave some background information about the authors’ lives before discussing their most famous works: Magnolia Street – Louis Golding & Almonds & Raisins – Maisie Mosco.
Members of The Jewish Theatre Company read passages and re-enacted scenes from each novel, expertly bringing the characters to life as we soaked up the atmosphere of our surroundings and discovered the hardships of being a Jew in Manchester, at the early part of the twentieth century.
Rather than let the audience ask questions, Sherry asked the audience to share any personal memories they had of the writers. It was fascinating and compelled me to rush out and order Almonds and Raisins (now out of print but available second hand), which is the first in a trilogy. I think I can remember owning all three books at some point in my life, but other things distracted me from reading them at the time. Never mind! Shall read them now and would urge anyone wishing to glean an insight into this fascinating culture to do the same.
Incidentally, The Jewish Theatre Company is presenting ‘On Broadway’ – a musical tribute to Broadway – on Monday 25th – Wednesday 27th November at 7.30pm at The Paragon Theatre in Prestwich, Manchester. The tickets are priced at: Adults – £12, Under 16s – £10. Anyone interested, should call: 07532 154270. If they’re as good on the night as they were at the event, it should prove a most enjoyable evening.
Joanna Trollope in Conversation with Jenni Murray. Sense & Sensibility – Royal Exchange Theatre
Joanna Trollope is another glamorous and vivacious woman, like Helen Fielding, who appears much younger than her years. (What is it with these blonde, female novelists? Does becoming successful regress time? How does it affect brunettes, I wonder? Not that I’m assuming I’ll ever be in their league. I’m rambling again, aren’t I? Anyway, back to Joanna.) She speaks eloquently and articulately, as you might expect, yet also wittily about her subject matter. As a prolific writer with a well-established catalogue of material under her belt, she was commissioned to engage with The Austen Project and rework Sense & Sensibility for a contemporary audience.
Ms Trollope enthused to a receptive Jenni Murray and enthralled audience about her eagerness to take up this challenge, explaining how it was relatively easy considering the story – its themes transcending the generations – and its characters were already established and just needed updating to embrace a world transformed by feminism and driven by social media.
To get a feel for the original novel, she visited many of the locations mentioned in Austen’s work and added two years to the daughters’ ages to give extra maturity to the characters.
The Austen Project was conceived in a bid to introduce the magic and durability of this timeless author to a younger generation, in the hope it may encourage the reader to dabble in the real McCoy. Joanna Trollope is the first of several celebrated writers who are tackling the remastering of Austen’s classics: Northanger Abbey, Emma, Persuasion, Mansfield Park and, of course, Pride & Prejudice. Sense & Sensibility, by Joanna Trollope, is now on sale in hardback.
That concludes my overview of the Manchester Literature Festival. It was inspiring and more importantly, enjoyable so thanks to all the organisers, sponsors and volunteers who gave up their time to make it a great success.
Can’t wait to see how they’re going to top it next year!