Past Events

Past Events

Juliet Nicolson – Frostquake

Wednesday 10 February, 8pm

Join us on Zoom to hear Juliet Nicolson talk about Frostquake: the frozen winter of 1962 and how Britain emerged a different country

On Boxing Day 1962, when Juliet Nicolson was eight years old, the snow began to fall. It did not stop for ten weeks. The drifts in East Sussex reached twenty-three feet. In London, milkmen made deliveries on skis. On Dartmoor 2,000 ponies were buried in the snow, and starving foxes ate sheep alive.

It wasn’t just the weather that was bad. The threat of nuclear war had reached its terrifying height with the recent Cuban Missile Crisis. Unemployment was on the rise, de Gaulle was blocking Britain from joining the European Economic Community, Winston Churchill, still the symbol of Great Britishness, was fading. These shadows hung over a country paralysed by frozen heating oil, burst pipes and power cuts.

And yet underneath the frozen surface, new life was beginning to stir. A new breed of satirists threatened the complacent decadence of the British establishment. A game-changing band from Liverpool topped the charts, becoming the ultimate symbol of an exuberant youthquake. Scandals such as the Profumo Affair exposed racial and sexual prejudice. When the thaw came, ten weeks of extraordinary weather had acted as a catalyst between two distinct eras.

From poets to pop stars, shopkeepers to schoolchildren, and her own family’s experiences, Juliet Nicolson traces the hardship of that frozen winter and the emancipation that followed. That spring, new life was unleashed, along with freedoms we take for granted today.

A brilliant concept transformed into a brilliant and revelatory book. Completely fascinating and engrossing – William Boyd

The freezing winter of 1962-63 finally thawed in early March and as if on cue British society and politics became molten and mobile. Those who lived through it will never forget it. Those who didn’t, need to know about it. Juliet Nicolson is brilliant at recapturing mood, moment and character. It’s as if the inhabitants of that extraordinary time have flung open the door and welcomed her in from the blizzard outside to tell her all. This book is a must – Peter Hennessy

Frostquake is wholly remarkable . . . a rare and engrossing read that brought that time straight back to my memory and consciousness – Vanessa Redgrave

I was absolutely enthralled from first page to last. It’s truly remarkable, so well written, and the scope of her research is extraordinary. I particularly admire the way she entwines her own family’s experience with what was going on at the time – a very vivid, accurate and perceptive portrayal of the period at all social, political and cultural levels – Selina Hastings

This is an absolutely mesmerising book. Where I knew of the events concerned I was fascinated by the vivid retelling, and when I didn’t I was utterly gripped – Antonia Fraser

Mick Herron – Slough House

Wednesday 3 February, 8pm

Join us on Zoom to hear Mick Herron talk about Slough House, the latest in his Jackson Lamb series.

‘Kill us? They’ve never needed to kill us,’ said Lamb. ‘I mean, look at us. What would be the point?’

A year after a calamitous blunder by the Russian secret service left a British citizen dead from novichok poisoning, Diana Taverner is on the warpath. What seems a gutless response from the government has pushed the Service’s First Desk into mounting her own counter-offensive – but she’s had to make a deal with the devil first. And given that the devil in question is arch-manipulator Peter Judd, she could be about to lose control of everything she’s fought for.

Meanwhile, still reeling from recent losses, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold. Slough House has been wiped from Service records, and fatal accidents keep happening. No wonder Jackson Lamb’s crew are feeling paranoid. But have they actually been targeted?

With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass.

But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.

Black Girls Book Club presents: Conversations with Namina Forna

Thursday 4th February at 7pm

Black Girls Book Club are thrilled to present conversations with YA author Namina Forna, one of the most anticipated debut authors of 2021. Join us for an exclusive opportunity to hear Melissa and Natalie, Founders of BGBC, discuss Namina’s West-African inspired feminist fantasy, The Gilded Ones. Already listed as a “must-read” by Cosmopolitan, Elle, Bustle, Buzzfeed, and Refinery29, this is an exclusive event where you can join the conversation and pose questions to the three fabulous women on the panel. 

The first 20 people to book the ‘book and ticket’ option will receive an exclusive The Gilded Ones goodie bag.

About The Gilded Ones

Sixteen year old Deka lives in Otera, a deeply patriarchal ancient kingdom where a woman’s worth is tied to her purity and she must bleed to prove it.  But when Deka bleeds gold – the colour of impurity – she faces consequences worse than death.

Steeped in West-Africa culture and boldly exploring a woman’s life in war, The Gilded Ones is like nothing you’ve ever read before.

About Namina Forna

Namina Forna was born in Sierra Leone and emigrated to the US in the 1990s at the age of nine. She has been travelling back and forth ever since. She now works as a writer and producer for film and TV in LA and was a finalist for NBC / Universal Writers on the Verge and semi-finalist for the Sundance Screenwriting Lab. The Gilded Ones is her debut novel for Young Adults.

About Black Girls Book Club

Black Girls Book Club was founded by Melissa Cummings-Quarry & Natalie A Carter to create a safe space for Black women to come together over a shared love of books. They have interviewed, amongst many others, Tayari Jones, Malorie Blackman, Diane Abbott and Bernardine Evaristo. They have featured in British Vogue, Stylist, Time Out, and on the BBC and Sky Arts. Their debut book GROWN: The Black Girls Guide to Growing up will be published by Bloomsbury in 2021. 

Jon Sopel – UnPresidented

Interviewed by James Naughtie

Thursday 28 January 7.30pm

We are collaborating with two fellow independent bookshops (Chorleywood Bookshop and Village Books) to bring you a live streamed event with the BBC North America Editor Jon Sopel.

You can purchase a copy of UnPresidented and ticket for the live stream event or a ticket only.

Jon Sopel joins us live from Washington as he takes us behind the scenes of a presidential race that Trumped all others!

Experience life on the campaign trail through Jon’s very personal account of this extraordinary race for the White House. As the election heats up and a global pandemic slowly sweeps in, challenging the very institutions of American politics and the Trump presidency, Jon shows us what really goes on behind the scenes at every key moment.

Tim Bouverie – Appeasing Hitler

Monday 18 January 7.30pm-8.30pm

We are collaborating with two fellow independent bookshops (Chorleywood Bookshop and Village Books) to bring you a live streamed event with the historian and journalist Tim Bouverie.

You can purchase a copy of Appeasing Hitler and ticket for the live stream event or a ticket only.

Tim will talk about his book, the Sunday Times Bestseller Appeasing Hitler: Chamberlain, Churchill and the Road to War. This is the first significant narrative history of appeasement and a compelling reappraisal of one of the most controversial episodes in history.

‘Astonishing’ Antony Beevor

‘One of the most promising young historians to enter our field for years’ Max Hastings

‘A brilliant and sparkling debut that reads like a thriller. I couldn’t put it down’ Peter Frankopan

‘Vivid, detailed and utterly fascinating… This is political drama at its most compelling’ James Holland

Nydia Hetherington

Tuesday 10 November, 8pm

At Sevenoaks Bookshop we love to feature and support debut novelists. This year many brilliant debut novels will not have received the attention they deserve so this is more important to us than ever. We loved this book and can’t wait to share it with you!

Join us on Zoom to hear Nydia Hetherington talking about her beautiful intoxicating debut novel, A Girl Made of Air.

Details of how to access the Zoom event will be emailed to registered attendees the day before the event. You do not need to come to the shop to pick up a ticket, but at the checkout do select whether you want to collect the book or to pay for delivery.

About A Girl Made of Air:

Haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore. A Girl Made of Air brings the circus to life in all of its grime and glory; Marina, Manu, Serendipity Wilson, Fausto, Big Gen and Mouse will live long in the hearts of readers. As will this story of loss and reconciliation, of storytelling and truth.

For fans of Angela Carter and Erin Morgenstern.

About the author:

Originally from Leeds, Nydia Hetherington moved to London in her twenties to embark on an acting career. Later she moved to Paris where she studied at the Jacques Lecoq theatre school before creating her own theatre company. When she returned to London, she completed a creative writing degree at Birkbeck.

Victoria Hislop

Wednesday 28 October, 7.30pm

The long awaited follow-up of The Island.

25th August 1957. The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony. And a moment of violence has devastating consequences.

When time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart and, for the people of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever coloured with tragedy.

In the aftermath, the question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.

Ruth Jones

Wednesday 23 September 7.30pm

We were SO excited about our event with Ruth Jones in the Stag and then equally disappointed when events forced us to have to cancel. So we’re especially pleased that whilst we won’t be able to meet Ruth in person, we will now be able to have an online event with her!

About Us Three:
A funny, moving and uplifting novel about life’s complications, the power of friendship and how it defines us all, from Ruth Jones, co-writer of Gavin and Stacey and author of the smash-hit, number one bestselling debut, Never Greener.

Meet Lana, Judith and Catrin. Best friends since primary school when they swore an oath on a Curly Wurly wrapper that they would always be there for each other, come what may.

After the trip of a lifetime, the three girls are closer than ever. But an unexpected turn of events shakes the foundation of their friendship to its core, leaving their future in doubt – there’s simply too much to forgive, let alone forget. An innocent childhood promise they once made now seems impossible to keep . . .

Packed with all the heart and empathy that made Ruth’s name as a screenwriter and now author, Us Three is a funny, moving and uplifting novel about life’s complications, the power of friendship and how it defines us all. Prepare to meet characters you’ll feel you’ve known all your life – prepare to meet Us Three.

‘A touching celebration of the beauty and endurance of female friendship.’ Dawn French

‘I loved this brilliantly gripping depiction of the complexities of female friendship over the years. Love, betrayal, comedy and loss – Us Three has it all.’ Fiona Neill

‘A warm, smart, uplifting tale of true friendship.’ Beth O’Leary, author of The Flatshare and The Switch

‘This novel oozes warmth and honesty. A big-hearted book that provides a cast of characters you’ll lose your heart to.’ Adele Parks, author of Lies, Lies, Lies and Just My Luck

Tuesday 21 July 8pm

Rachel Joyce

The author of bestselling and much-loved books such as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy and The Music Shop.

“I loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, but Miss Benson’s Beetle is even better. The characters have a richness and depth that drew me into their story immediately. And what characters! This book is far more than an unexpected adventure, it’s a beautiful portrayal of female friendship in all its frailties, contradictions and strengths. It made me think we all have the power to be so much more than we imagine when we cut the chains of expectation. I actually feel as if I’ve just lost a positive, powerful friend – I’m cut adrift, I haven’t been so immersed in a novel for years” Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path

We have a limited number of signed copies that will include a handwritten postcard from Rachel.

Tuesday 30 June at 8pm (GMT)

Lily King

New York Times bestselling author Lily King. We feel incredibly lucky and so thrilled about this! Lily’s last UK published novel Euphoria is an incredible book. It was a Sevenoaks Bookshop bestseller – a real word of mouth hit among our customers because of the sheer quality of Lily’s writing. If you haven’t already read it – do so now!

Lily discussed her new novel, Writers and Lovers, a tale of art, love and ambition, all told with such exquisite consideration, certain sentences and images clean take your breath away.

‘Lily King is one of our great literary treasures and Writers & Lovers is suffused with her brilliance. It is captivating, potent, incisive, and wise, a moving story of grief, and recovering from grief, and of a young woman finding her courage for life’. Madeline Miller, author of Circe

“Writers & Lovers made me happy. Even as the narrator grieves the loss of her mother and struggles to make art and keep a roof over her head, the novel is suffused with hopefulness and kindness. Lily King writes with a great generosity of spirit.” Ann Patchett

 “I loved this book not just from the first chapter or the first page but from the first paragraph… The voice is just so honest and riveting and insightful about creativity and life.” Curtis Sittenfeld, London Evening Standard

“Delightful… An unmistakable broadside against fiction’s love affair with macho strivers, even — or especially — when layers of lyricism and tenderness coat their machismo. The emotional force of Writers & Lovers is considerable.” New York Times Book Review

You can watch the full length recording of our event with Lily here:

Benjamin Myers

Tuesday 26 May 8pm

Benjamin Myers introduced his new novel, The Offing.

The Offing is absolutely a book to read now – filled with hope and love and the joys of reading and writing. Set in the aftermath of WWII, it is the story of a young man setting out on a walking adventure for the summer, before returning to his home town to start a job in a mine. It’s about England, the North, nature, the sea and a life-changing encounter with a woman he meets on his travels. For anyone reading our current bookclub book, One Fine Day, it is a great companion read.

‘…the book recalls JL Carr’s A Month in the Country Myers’s sensitive portrayal of an emotionally mature man looking back at a single life-changing summer is as quietly gripping as Carr’s novella.’
The Guardian

‘What a radical thing, these days, to have written a book so full of warmth and kindness… Gorgeous’
Max Porter, author of Lanny

You can watch the full length recording of our chat with Benjamin here:

Chiddingstone Castle Virtual Literary Festival

Podcast series now live!

Sadly the Festival will not be taking place at the Castle this year but the organisers have arranged a brilliant series of recorded interviews which will be available from Saturday 9 May, and we can deliver the authors’ books direct to you. More information…