“Stella Duffy rides Theodora to victory at Cheltenham.”
Great event last week at Cheltenham Lit Festival.
I always have a good time at Cheltenham, it invariably seems to be sunny and crisp with gorgeous autumn colours, but I had an especially fine time at this event. And not just (!) because Theodora ‘won’, it was just such a pleasure to be on a panel that wasn’t all about ‘please buy my book’ and was, instead, about authors really getting behind their characters and enjoying their stories. Bettany Hughes was hilarious on Helen and very persuasive, while Lucy Hughes-Hallet’s Cleopatra book is a fine read, her updating afterword makes some splendid points about the reversal of our view of the middle east in the past ten years. I was terrified that, as a non-historian, I’d be hopelessly out of my depth on such a smart panel, but as the others were friendly and as it was so well run (kudos to Charlotte Higgins for chairing the panel and saving us from yet another drear same old same old event), it was very enjoyable. And given we were told we’d sold 300 tickets – at the same time as Stephen Fry was giving his national treasure-ness elsewhere for the festival – I think it shows that good strong women characters can always attract a crowd.