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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a mum in possession of a child at uni must be in want of something to distract her.  This last weekend I (finally!) took my daughter to university.  The week before threatened to be a long one – so thank goodness for the distraction of Henley Literary Festival. It is held over one week and this years was the largest so far. It holds so many events the locations are spread across the town, I went to see 4 of the many authors.  The tickets for the big names go fast, but the big names are not always the most interesting, as I found out.

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The first was author Max Mosley. Max talked about his childhood as the son of Diana Mitford, society beauty and her husband Oswald Mosley, disgraced founder of the British Union of Fascists.  Moving on to his time in Formula One, working with Bernie Ecclestone and his role in improving safety on the track.  Finally he touched on his legal battle with the News of the World newspaper, who published photos of what he considered a private orgy, and what they considered fair game.  He won.  He seems to have inherited charm and the ability to take on the establishment from his parents.

Next up was Candace Bushnell, the American author of the column in the New York Times which inspired the tv series Sex And The City. I’ll only say that despite the valiant efforts of the interviewer it didn’t live up to my expectations, but the drink in Hotel du Vin afterwards was good, so the evening wasn’t a total right-off!

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The next author I saw was one that I hadn’t previously heard of (my bad), Ella Woodward. Deliciously Ella has sold in record breaking numbers.  Ella’s success came from her blog, where she wrote about overhauling her diet after a serious and debilitating illness.  She has a huge following on Instagram and her blog covers everything from food, yoga, exercise and lifestyle.  She is healthy now, beautiful and successful. Her talk was great – very honest, and natural.  I came away admiring her and thinking what a great role model she was for how to turn adversity into a positive life change, and in the process has now got a great career.  One of her healthy, all natural recipes can be found on this link to her blog –

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At the end of the week I saw Sue Perkins being interviewed about her autobiography Spectacles.  She was very entertaining and despite being pressed she successfully avoided disclosing the result of this weeks Bake Off final.  She regaled the audience with stories from her book, and revealed she met her tv partner Mel Giedroyc at Cambridge, and although their personal lives have gone in very different directions, their friendship is the one she values most.  I’ve started reading her book, so far, so funny.

So if you like books, hearing authors chat, answer questions and crucially, you need a little distraction, investigate where your local festivals are – or you could plan a trip to the mother of all lit fests –  Hay Literary Festival  Happy reading.

The End.

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