Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Silver Service from Truly Entertaining Elizabeth

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Silver Service from Truly Entertaining Elizabeth

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Whetstone

One of the bestselling writers heading for the Fresh Fiction festival in Newcastle is Elizabeth Noble, author of The Reading Group. David Whetstone spoke to her.

It is with a breezy lack of concern that Elizabeth Noble hears my confession that I'm having a little trouble getting into her first novel, The Reading Group.

Nothing to do with writing style or plot; simply the blizzard of (largely female) characters that envelopes you in the opening pages.

There are Harriet and Nicole, Polly and Cressida, Susan and Alice. A Tina, a Mary and an Imogen hover on the periphery.

As a bloke, it's disconcerting ( like waking up (as you do in the more disturbing dreams) in a Chippendales gig or locked in a cubicle in the powder room. All those girls; all those names.

"It confuses men," says Elizabeth sympathetically. "They get quite lost. But women, by and large, get it quite quickly.

"I think there are probably too many characters in it, to be honest, but it was my first book."

With their capacity for instantly sorting their Harriets from their Cressidas, women took to The Reading Group like bees to nectar. It has been a gratifying paperback bestseller for the author and her publisher, Hodder & Stoughton (230,000 sold so far).

It also qualifies 35-year-old Elizabeth Noble, from Guildford, to be one of the star attractions of the Fresh Fiction festival, celebrating new novels and writers, starting in Newcastle next week. She takes part in a session called Giving Up The Day Job? next Tuesday.

"Actually," she says ( and now it's her turn to be making confessions ( "I gave up my day job when I had my kids. I haven't had a salary for seven years."

You could argue that the odds were stacked in Elizabeth's favour when she first started to write. She read English at Oxford and then went into publishing.

"I'm a bit of a Jack of all trades, master of none," she says, although she does seem to have mastered the art of mass-market fiction.

Add to this the fact that her husband, David Young, is a publisher, chief executive of Time Warner no less, and you could say this woman was born with the literary equivalent of a silver spoon in her mouth. …

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