There’s a movement online to buy books for Christmas—or the holiday of your choice—which is a fine idea (although we also like gifts given to Heifer, Greenpeace, Amnesty, Habitat, etc.) especially as this year we have the perfect gift book: Joan Aiken’s The Serial Garden—we just got a great note from Politics and Prose in DC saying they are “delighted to carry it; Joan Aiken is a favorite of ours.” Yay!
There’s a great interview with Lizza Aiken on Omnivoracious:
The story of The Serial Garden had always haunted her, and many of her readers too, and I think she felt a real duty to try and resolve the terrible sadness of its ending. It was her idea to use the name of this story for this collection, and I understand that this was why she chose it. She had written a couple more stories about its hero, Mr Johansen and his lost Princess, and gave them the possibility of a happy ending, but perhaps was still worried that she had been unduly harsh to Mrs Armitage, whose brisk spring cleaning had caused an unwitting tragedy. Mrs Armitage was in many ways a portrait of Joan’s mother, and it is she who is really redeemed in a later story, Milo’s New Word and remembered as the patient and loving mother she really was.
The book has an illustration for each story by UK illustrator Andi Watson (who we’re going to interview here, if you have any questions for him, send them along).
The Serial Garden was reviewed on The Cultural Gutter: (“It would be perfect for reading to kids”) and on Green Man Review (“Readers of all ages have the opportunity to enjoy some of the best writing by one of the most superb and timeless fantasy writers”) and is a pick of the week on a kid’s radio show(!):
This week’s show’s Book Time with Ella will be about the late Joan Aiken’s The Serial Garden.
and was a recent critic’s pick at Salon: “Buy it to read to your kids, and you’ll find yourself sneaking tastes on the sly; a little Aiken is a fine thing to have in your system at any age.”
This Sunday we’ll be in New York City for an event at Books of Wonder celebrating the book’s publication (and picking up a few cupcakes!) with one of our favorite writers, Michael Dirda, Joan’s daughter (which makes her Conrad Aiken‘s granddaughter) Lizza Aiken, and Joan’s long-time US literary agent, Charles Schlessiger.
Sunday, November 16th 1-3 pm, Books of Wonder 18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011. 212-989-3270. Free.