At last it can be told! Red letter day was yesterday when this year’s summer reading selection for The TV Book Club on Channel 4 was announced – and The Lantern has made the cut!
If I say I am thrilled beyond words, I know you’ll understand the magnitude of this for me. It’s what every writer dreams of, but never expects will happen to them. The call came through back in April that The Lantern was on the long-list, and I really thought that was as good as it was going to get, and was delighted at that encouraging endorsement before it was published.
I was in
at the time, sitting on a pile of rubble. The building site at the house was reaching a zenith of mess and confusion. ‘So,’ said Susan Lamb down the line from Orion, ‘if you get it they’ll want to come and film you at the house, take some long lingering shots of the gorgeous setting. That’s OK, isn’t it?’ Provence
‘Mmm, yes… Of course!’ I replied. It didn’t seem worth worrying anyone unnecessarily at this stage.
For the rest of the month the builders cracked on. The chaos of stones and equipment grew. No further word about the TV Book Club, and as the days went by I just assumed my book had been passed over. Then, a couple of days before I was due to go to
, the news came through – The Lantern was in! New York
I went wobbly for a few hours when I realised that not only would we have to turn on a sixpence on our return to England to get down to Provence in time for the filming schedule, but there was the small matter of the scenic quality of our property in question…
Frantic communications between
New York and a tiny hamlet in ensued, followed by intense activity. But the sight that greeted us when we finally arrived there brought a tear to the eye. Everyone, our masons and especially our very good friend William and his family, had pulled together to clear and clean the place up so it was ready for its close-up. France
Unbelievably, the only element that let us down in this complex scenario was the normally sunny Provençal weather! On the day of filming, it poured with rain. Then it poured some more. Then we had thunderstorms. Zoe and James from Cactus TV could not have been lovelier or more professional, and we all made the best of it. At one point I stood out in the courtyard under a broken umbrella explaining that perhaps these darker interludes were appropriate to the novel - after all, there are gothic elements in it, as the idyllic summer in the South of France fades into winter.
The TV Book Club starts on Sunday, June 26 on More 4, repeated on Channel 4 on Saturday, July 2. The first episode is a general look at the books up for discussion, and here’s the full list:
Week One: The Lantern, Deborah Lawrenson (Orion)
Week Two: Moonlight Mile, Dennis Lehane (Abacus)
Week Three: A Visit From The Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan (Corsair)
Week Four: Night Road, Kristin Hannah (Pan)
Week Five: The Book Of Human Skin, Michelle Lovric (
Week Six: The Hidden Child, Camilla Läckberg (HarperCollins)
Week Seven: The Radleys, Matt Haig (Canongate)
Week Eight: Grace Williams Says It Loud, Emma Henderson (Sceptre)
As you can see, I’m in some impressive company. I think all the books are very appealing – including a couple already on my TBR list. I’m up on June 26/ July 2, and the episode will be widely available to view online as well. The details are on the Channel 4 website here.