LIFE IMITATING ART – ARTEMIS COOPER

LIFE IMITATING ART – ARTEMIS COOPER

 

Lucy Hughes-Hallett’s conversation with Claire Armistead had already begun by the time I arrived on Tuesday. Lucy was talking about her first novel, Peculiar Ground, which is all about people  building walls around themselves and their properties. As she was finishing the book, waves of Syrian refugees were walking across Europe, trying to find a home – it’s amazing how a novel, born of imagination, can suddenly connect with a tragedy preoccupying us all.

My talk was on Wednesday, about the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard. I always read from a script which is a bit plonky, but it does keep one on track and provided you keep your finger in the right place in the page, you can go off-piste if the mood takes you.

I love Hay audiences – they have exactly the right balance between the serious and the playful. One person asked me which of Jane’s lovers I would most like to have had an affair with – first time I’ve had that question! And the answer is Cecil Day-Lewis: a tall poet with a craggy face and an Irish lilt in his voice – no wonder Jane fell for him, even if he was married to her best friend.