Book festivals come in all shapes, sizes and flavours but my favourite has to be the Chiswick Book Festival and it’s not just because it takes place right on my own doorstep.
Now in its second year, the cosy, relaxed feel of the festival belies its astonishing ambition and scope. This year’s participants include Sir Terry Pratchett, Sir Andrew Motion, Michael Wood, Robert McCrum, Charlie Higson, Allison Pearson…I could go on and on. Talks and readings are interspersed with events such as a Crime Fiction Tea complete with Delicious Death cake while aspiring writers can take part in a Creative Writing session run by the bestselling author Celia Brayfield.
I participated in the festival last year as an author but took my 8 year old daughter along this time around to enjoy it from the other side of the fence. We listened enraptured to award-winning children’s author Anthony McGowan whose hilarious new book Einstein’s Underpants – And How They Saved The World is out now. Equally enthralling, and coping manfully with an audience whose age range spanned everything from toddlers to grown-ups, was Josh Lacey who has just published the latest in his brilliant Grk series, Grk Down Under.
Kudos to the indefatigable Torin Douglas and his team for what is a thoroughly enjoyable event. It pulls off the rare feat of appealing to a wide range of reading tastes while always remaining entertaining and informative. The festival runs through until tomorrow evening, Sunday 19th September, so you still have time to catch this evening’s events, which include Sir Andrew Motion, as well as Sadie Jones, Rebecca Frayn, Adele Parks et al. And the best thing about it? All the money raised goes to good causes including reading related charities. Now that’s what I call a literary festival with heart!