Libraries Week runs 5 to 10 October, and Manchester Libraries invites you to mark the occasion by joining acclaimed author Sarah Butler online. She will be in conversation about her work and reading from her latest novel, Jack & Bet, which was published in the UK earlier this year by Picador – who also published her debut, Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love, and its follow-up, Before The Fire. The event will also include a Q&A section when there will be the opportunity for audience questions.
Sarah is a writer and literature activist who lives in Manchester, and in 2007, she established the literature consultancy UrbanWords, through which she explores the relationship between writing and place through prose, poetry and participatory projects. Sarah joined Manchester Metropolitan University as Lecturer in Creative Writing in June 2018, and was due to appear at a reading with Okechukwu Nzelu when Covid stopped play.
Paul McVeigh says: “I look forward to Sarah Butler’s books which are always honest and tender. Jack & Bet is a moving yet unsentimental story about family and love and the secrets we live with.”
Described variously (but always in three words) as “tender, moving and beautifully told”, “warm, moving and life affirming” and “moving, funny and uplifting”, the characters in Jack & Bet are as complex as they are believable, while some difficult subjects are raised and explored. Set around the Elephant & Castle roundabout in London, Sarah Butler’s penchant for place-writing (indeed, she has been involved in two of the Manchester-based Re/Place live literature commissions, for Didsbury Arts Festival and, before that, for Chorlton Arts Festival) shows through and gives the novel a plausible backdrop and an authentic feel. The award-winning author of A Good Son, Paul McVeigh says: “I look forward to Sarah Butler’s books which are always honest and tender. Jack & Bet is a moving yet unsentimental story about family and love and the secrets we live with.”
Here’s the book blurb, FYI: “Jack is a man of few words, married to a woman of many. He and Bet have been together for seventy years — almost a lifetime — and happily so, for the most part. All Jack and Bet want is to enjoy the time they have left together, in the flat they have tried to make their home. Their son Tommy has other ideas: he wants them to live somewhere with round-the-clock care, hot meals, activities. Bet thinks they can manage just fine. When they strike up an unlikely friendship with Marinela, a young Romanian woman, Bet thinks she has found the perfect solution — one that could change Marinela’s life as well as theirs. But this means revisiting an old love affair, and confronting a long-buried secret she has kept hidden from everyone, even Jack, for many years. Tender, moving, and beautifully told, Jack and Bet is an unforgettable novel about love and loss, the joys and regrets of a long marriage, and the struggle to find a place to call home.”
The event will take place via Live Webinar. All the details on how you can join the event on the night will be included in the confirmation email.