At 11.30 on Monday morning the kettle went on in the HarperFiction kitchen and the biscuits were cracked open early. Five editors, three publicists and a designer tried to work out how to turn on the TV and seven minutes later we had lift off. We tuned in to The TV Book Club just in time to pretend we had all read everything Kafka had ever written and to watch the ads. But then, the moment we had all been waiting for – THE DEVIL’S ACRE and Matthew Plampin were on the telly!
THE DEVIL’S ACRE, Matthew’s second novel tells the story of the short life of Colonel Samuel Colt’s Westminster gun factory, and his newly appointed London secretary, Edward Lowry. A desperate time for London’s poor, Lowry shows us the underbelly of society when he begins an affair with a girl from the factory floor and discovers corruption is rife.
Matt spoke brilliantly about the Victorian London he brought to life in the novel, from the grand establishments still standing today to the fetid slums long forgotten – as Jo Brand put it, this is not a novel you would want to scratch and sniff.
The panel debated, we held our breath…
‘I thought it was terrific … meticulously researched …’
‘That’s a really terrific story to have found and developed …’
‘I loved Caroline …’
Clenched fists relaxed, we ate our crumbled biscuits and toasted a highly successful Monday tea break.