Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

Greetings from Virginia!Simon slept through his first transatlantic flight, has yawned through his first meeting with Santa Claus, and even decided to sleep in a cot for a week before deciding this was a mistake...  And we're missing the big freeze in Scotland.Some nice reviews on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blonde-Bengali-Wife-Anne-Hamilton/dp/1905091478If you've read the book, please feel free to add your own!  The more copies sold, the more royalties for Bhola's Children - so dare I suggest it as a perfect Christmsa gift???
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Reflections on the Launch

Huge sigh of relief!The people flocked in in their hundreds (well, a wonderfully affirming 68, not all of whom I knew) and stayed beyond the wine and canapes.  The venue was great, the books arrived in time for a long, snaking queue for signings and the attentiveness (other than from Simon who slept from beginning to end) of the audience to the readings and Jacqui's explanation about Bhola suggested that the evening justified a night away from the telly.  Best of all, I didn't fall flat on my face or say anything completely stupid (I don't think).So, a big thank you to everyone who made it such a success - Neil & Caroline for their respective roles as compere and bar girl!! Ruth for seeing to the food, Julie & my mum for doing stuff that needed doing and Jacqui for the exhibition, the photographs and the 'speech'.  Jacqui Dunbar is a friend and  great...
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The book that inspired a charity

Remember the theory of the 'six degrees of separation'?  Well, I met Dinah who met Bruna who took her to Bangladesh and introduced her to Ali who was running a small home-school for children with disabilities there...  The detail is in the preface to A Blonde Bengali Wife, but put simply Dinah fell in love with the country and the people in exactly the way I had done.  More so, she was totally inspired by the work Ali was doing on the island of Bhola, and came home with the plan to set up a charity to support him.  Thus was born Bhola's Children and a lifelong relationship between us and them.Still no sign of a publisher - but did it matter now?Well, some more excellent rejections ('great book but we've just taken on one about a female cyclist in Sierra Leone' or 'if only the author was famous we'd snap...
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Scotland, May 2004

Rejection followed rejection once the manuscript for A Blonde Bengali Wife was completed.  And however nice the notes were, they were still rejections.  In fact, it's fair to say that the nice ones ('we loved this but...') are far more infuriating than the pre-printed photocopied slip complete with coffee stain and addressed to Miss Hambleton/Hamill (or on one occasion Mr Roy Thompson with reference to his novel The Byronic Man... If you're out there Roy, best of luck!)I went back to Bangladesh.  When my flatmate of the time, a few weeks after my return to a job in Edinburgh, casually remembered that someone calling herself a literary agent had called in my absence and said I should phone back - who, when it was said flatmate wasn't sure, oh dear, was it important..?Dinah Wiener, a very experienced and successful literary agent in London eventually took a risk on the book.  'It's not very commercial and...
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West of Ireland, September 2002

Back at home, back at work, full of stories about Bangladesh  - a veritable 'Bangla-bore' - and with a huge album of disappointing photographs (this was before I got a digital camera and I have no eye for photography) I turned towards the diary I had been diligently keeping whilst away.  Long and boring and self-indulgent, I looked at it again and again and began to think it would make a good travel book if I ever managed to edit it.  I'd always done a lot of writing but never finished anything full-length before so this was going to be a huge challenge; the aim to show the 'other side' of Bangladesh beyond the dismal and shcoking news reports that tend to sideline it for the Western world...Fast forward to the present and yes, the reporter and photographer from the Evening News, duly interviewed me.  And simon.  And my mother.  No...
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