Last week saw the paperback publication day for Girl in Red Velvet by Margaret James – a wonderful saga set in 1960’s Britain, specifically Oxford. Today Margaret tells us a little more about the inspiration for her new book and describes the Oxford of the past …
Hello readers! Thank you so much for dropping by – it’s lovely to have you here.
Girl in Red Velvet was inspired by the time I lived in Oxford during the late 1960s onwards. My boyfriend, who was soon to be my husband, was an undergraduate there. So I got to know his friends and in those days anyone could wander in and out of the various colleges, at least during the daytime.
Oxford was a lovely city in the sixties. It’s still lovely, but some hideous modern buildings have replaced a few of the older ones. The pub in which Lily gets drunk for the first and most humiliating time is now a pizza palace, and the once grand department store of Elliston and Cavell is now part of a nationwide chain.
At that stage in my life, I didn’t have any definite ambition to become a novelist, but I must have been soaking everything up because, when I came to write Lily Denham’s story, Oxford seemed the obvious place to set it, and the story unfolded more or less before my eyes.
Lily is a clever girl – much cleverer than me – but she still makes lots of mistakes. On her first day she meets Harry and Max, best friends who decide she’s one of the lads and invite her to go with them on their madcap adventures, stealing punts, almost drowning themselves, and climbing over towering walls into deer parks. Lily isn’t supposed to fall in love with either, let alone both of them. But she does.
It looks as if there can’t be a happy outcome to this situation, and for a while everything looks pretty grim for Lily, and for Harry and Max, too. But time has a way of sorting things out, and at the end of the story all three of them find themselves in the places they never expected …
Girl in Red Velvet is available as an eBook on all platforms and can be ordered as a paperback from all good book retailers. Click on the cover image above for purchasing options.