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The novel that I was meant to read

Updated: Jun 29, 2018

I have a weird story about this novel, The Happy Prisoner by Monica Dickens. One of those 'it's meant to be' twists of fate. Several years ago I went on an extended holiday to Australia with my daughter, and we hired a car and just meandered about for a couple of months. (It was brilliant!!) Other than a couple of airport novels for the plane I didn't take any books with me, (and for a compulsive reader that's saying something!) but when we arrived in a little town called Bellingen we found a secondhand book store and I bought a couple of old Penguin novels and this was one of them. A gentle, middle-class, country house, post-war novel with dogs and horses and a wounded war hero and a buttoned-up nurse - real comfort reading stuff. But - horrors - I left it behind in a motel! I hadn't finished reading it! Over the years when we reminisce about that holiday, I say to my daughter, oh, do you remember that's where I left that book ...? so it's become a real family joke - me and the missing book. And the thing is, that what with sampling all the wine in the Hunter Valley and spending all my money in the night market in Hong Kong, by the time we got back to the UK I couldn't remember either the title of the book or the author.

So,fast forward ten years or so, and I am embarked full time on my writing career, and with my first novel heading towards publication I decide I'd like to work on something slightly different - a screenplay. I find a really helpful (free) online course from UEA and then cast about for something to write. I'm not that good at coming up with original plots, to be honest, that's not my strong point, so a book adaptation strikes me as the thing to do. But what book?

I am meeting my daughter from work for lunch, but am a bit early, so I nip into the Oxfam second-hand book store and just grab a handful of old Penguin editions. And when I get home and start reading through what I've got - ta DA!!! It's The Novel! back in my hands once more! Just perfect for a screenplay!

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