Peasenhall recommends a good book

by Kelvin Smith

When chat show host Jack Harris dies, his old friend David is commissioned to write a biography. The publisher is also an old friend, Caroline Bliss, “editorial director of Maypole Books, A Division of Something Nasty”.

At Maypole Books they love David’s title. “I call Sarah and tell her the book’s called ‘That’s All We Have Time For’. Sarah rings back to say that Caroline Bliss loves it and she loves it and everyone loves it in the office, which is open-plan to make love spread faster.

In case you haven’t guessed, Sarah is an eager young publishing recruit, who “writes down everything Caroline says, nodding muppetly. She’s a sarah in the Young Publishing Army. Many of her fellows will fall along the way. In this building alone, in the next twelve months, they’ll probably lose two sarahs, a poppy, various kates. But Sarah will survive. She knows what has to be done: agree with Caroline Bliss.

We learn a lot about Jack, David, their families, lovers and friends, but the biography never gets published quite as planned. But at least David is rescued from his life working in a bookshop in Suffolk, from where he “has dispersed enlightenment in all directions” for fourteen years.

This is not the Suffolk of the eighteenth century, most easily approached by boat. This is the Suffolk of email, where a book I recommended to the Person from Peasenhall was electronically touted that very morning to her friend in New Zealand.

They must know a thing or two about good books in Peasenhall.

Jon Canter, Seeds of Greatness, 2006