Shortlisted: Debut Novel of the Year
The Costa Judges: ‘A warm and well-observed story of love in later life, unexpected friendship and the ties that bind.’
Recently shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, 70-year-old Anne Youngson proves that it’s never too late to succeed at something new. Tina Hopgood, a grandmother and farmer’s wife living in Bury St Edmunds, writes to Professor Glob, at the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark, who once dedicated a book to her and her classmates. But the professor has died and so a reply comes from the new curator, Professor Anders Larsen. The two lonely people tentatively begin a correspondence that becomes a lifeline for them both. An intriguing and tender read about friendship and hope.
Youngson’s epistolary novel follows the correspondence between Tina Hopgood – a farmer’s wife living in Bury St Edmunds – and professor Anders Larsen, a curator at a Danish museum. What begins as an inquiry about the Tollund Man, and Tina’s thwarted plans to visit the museum, soon develops into a much-valued friendship. As the two enter into detailed discussions about history and archaeology, as well as sharing intimate details about their family lives, the book becomes a thoughtful and gentle meditation on buried passions, regrets, love, grief and loneliness. But Youngson’s debut offers hope for change in its tender exploration of what it means to have experienced a life well-lived.