I was so, so sad to learn from a friend that Siobhan Dowd, author of A Swift Pure Cry and The London Eye Mystery has died.
I was at the London Book Fair when Siobhan appeared at one of PEN’s writing masterclasses. She stood on the stage and gave a deep sigh. Only recently, she said, she had been in the audience of aspiring writers at one of these masterclasses. She couldn’t believe that she was on the stage talking about her book. But when I read her book I realised she was not just a fellow traveller on the thorny path to publication - the emotional honesty and simple beauty of her prose revealed a massive talent.
But when I read her book I realised she was not just a fellow traveller on the thorny path to publication - the emotional honesty and simple beauty of her prose revealed a massive talent.
A few months ago, I asked my husband to read my YA novel but he was reluctant, never having read YA, he didn’t know what standard I was aspiring to. I gave him A Swift Pure Cry. That’s the standard, I said.
A Swift Pure Cry is a beautiful novel with heartrendingly believable characters – from motherless Shell who resorts to shoplifting when she realises she needs her first bra to the alcoholic father who copes by sending the children to pick up the stones in the field.
I do not know Siobhan, but after reading A Swift Pure Cry, I felt like Siobhan knew me.
I grieve for this wonderful writer and, selfishly, I grieve for the books we will not be reading as a result of her death.