ST. PETER’S: Acclaimed author Lesley Crewe officially launched her newest novel, Beholden, with a tour stop in St. Peter’s, one of the communities in which the novel takes place.
The story unfolds through the voices of four characters living in Sydney and St. Peter’s – and a nod to River Bourgeois – with geography informing the author’s decision to choose the village. Crewe says she needed a place that was both the right size and far enough away to allow some distance between the characters.
Readers who hope to pinpoint the exact spots described in the book may be disconcerted to learn that the house on the hill, as with key locations in her other books, is a product of Crewe’s imagination.
“People have it built up in their minds and if they go and see the actual thing it’s always a disappointment. So, it’s much easier to say to somebody, ‘No, it’s not there. It could be anywhere,” she said over a cup of tea following the Saturday afternoon reading at the St. Peter’s branch of the Eastern counties regional library.
Careful not to give anything away, Crewe read passages from each of the four characters who narrate Beholden and noted the novel’s title came to her before the story formed.
“I always have the title before I write the story. The word beholden is a favourite of mine, it’s old fashioned and I think we’re all beholden to each other to get through our lives.”
Also central to the theme is the lasting repercussions of one’s decisions and how they can “ripple across the generations.”
Beholden is Crewe’s 10th novel, in 13 years, and she says she believes her readers respond to her work because she enjoys writing about the ordinary moments that shape our lives, as well as the grand.
She describes her writing as a “lovely pastime” and a way to avoid housework but also says she feels the responsibility of writing for others.
“I can get pretty worked up that way and then I just have to say forget about anybody else reading it. Write the story for yourself, like you always have, and it will all be okay.”
Writing can often be a lonely endeavour and Crewe says she has found a kinder approach in recent years. In contrast to her previous methods, she no longer spends 18 hours a day in front of a computer until the novel is complete.
She also notes that she takes great joy in meeting her readers at tour stops along the way. At the small St. Peter’s library branch she tended to seating arrangements – ultimately opting to stand – to ensure the attendees were comfortable and chatted with readers so warmly one might think she had invited them into her kitchen for tea.
Prior to the St. Peter’s event Saturday, she met with more readers at a stop at the Petit de Grat library and was particularly delighted to meet author Silver Donald Cameron, who lives part-time in D’Escousse.
In thanking the more than 40 readers who came, listened, and stood in line for her autograph on their books, the author also shared that she doesn’t yet have an idea for her next novel.
“So,” she said, playfully, “don’t read this too fast.”
Beholden, and other works by Lesley Crewe are available at several Strait area locations and online. For more information visit www.lesleycrewe.com.