Author: Sally Page
One of the reasons why I started to love British authors is because they write about friendships and communities, and a lot of this happens in my beautiful London, which is indeed a place where you can meet friends and find communities through random encounters in cafes, shops and community areas such as libraries. This has indeed been my experience when I studied in London for one year.
Sally Page is a prime example of British authors I love. Apart from writing about friendships and communities, she also has an amazing ability to instigate sentiments of nostalgia in me, which is the best quality an author can have to make me love their work. Sally Page has done this in her previous book (link here) and in this book. What is more, this is also a book about a stationary geek, and I am certainly one of them. I absolutely love stationary and buy it excessively, particularly when something looks vintage or has my favorite popular culture theme on it.
In this book, we meet Jo, a stationary lover who comes to look after her uncle’s stationary shop in London whilst he is in a hospital. As a chance, she meets two customers and befriends them. One is Malcom who is buying notebooks to write a book and another one is a runaway vicar Ruth who has escaped her job and now lives in London. Jo is herself escaping a bad relationship breakup and redundancy in the north of England so these three find themselves in an unusual and unplanned friendship where they share their life stories and support each other. Beautifully, Malcom’s book idea is studying Highgate cemetery in London, collecting info on people buried there, including some very famous ones with an intent to write a book on ghosts of these people and what they would talk about if they met. The trio then randomly pulls two names and starts writing what these ghosts would talk about. I loved this bit because, interestingly, when I lived in Zagreb, I always loved walking in Zrinjevac park and somehow often wondered what would ghosts of our Croatian ancestors think of Croatia today if they appeared at Zrinjevac park. I particularly always envisioned Marija Jurić Zagorka, the first women journalist and one of the greatest Croatian writers and characters from her books (often based on real historical figures) so this part of Sally Page’s book appealed to me massively and conversations three characters in the book design were intriguing and beautifully written. I really hope that Sally Page will consider actually writing this book.
I also loved how this ghost story writing was intertwined with the story of friendship and community not just between Jo, Malcom and Ruth but also between other shop owners who come to the stationary shop and talk to Jo. I also enjoyed a bit of a romance, particularly since romance tackles the issue of age difference and attempts to break that patriarchal barrier of women having to be younger than men.
An absolutely brilliant book with great conversations and descriptions and a book that once again celebrates London, which is always welcome. I loved it. I could not have wished for a better book to read to conclude 2023. It goes without saying that I am going to keep reading Sally Page’s books and other British authors who write about London, friendships and communities.
Thank you for reading.