Meeting Lynn Truss talking Cat Out of Hell, Tennyson's Gift, and a certain Mrs. Cameron!

Upon the U.S. publication of Cat out of Hell by Lynn Truss last month, I finally got a rare chance to meet her and have a brief chat with her about her novels, a certain Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Julia Margaret Cameron. Her current novel, Cat out of Hell is a Gothic take on a story of a cat's nine lives and each interaction with its human (owner). Lynn, brilliantly, writes from the cat's perspective telling each life's story to his human and then switches chapters from the human character perspective who can't believe their 'pet' cat is speaking to them in English!  It is hilarious. However, there is a dark undertone on a serious note about death and grief but overall highly recommended.

I was one of a very small crowd sitting inside an Upper East Side of Manhattan, NYC, Barnes and Noble, listening to Lynn Truss read a chapter or two from, 'Cat out of Hell' while taking a few questions. I knew right away I was one of the only people who knew who she was or who has read any of her previous novels. You see, in farness, Ms. Truss, has not been published here in ten years so Cat out of Hell is a pretty big deal. 

I had one surprise up my sleeve however. Tucked in my bag was the above book along with my paperback of my favorite farce novel, 'Tennyson's Gift' that I read back in 2011. It has not been published in the U.S. yet. As members of the crowd began to ask her questions, about why the cat perspective, why its tagged 'gothic' etc., it was my turn. I asked her a question related to Cat out of Hell asking her is she could speak a bit about the underlying tone of grief which she did. Then, I asked her about, 'Tennyson's Gift'!  You should have seen the surprised smile cross her face. I briefly told her how much I love it and how did she come to write it and research it etc.  She was very obliging, very intelligent and witty. 
 Lynn's inscription inside my above copy of Tennyson's Gift:  "For Kimberly, Have a wonderful trip to Freshwater! much love, Lynn Truss

As she began to answer my question, I was trying to hard to concentrate but my brain kept shouting, 'Lynn Truss is talking to you about Tennyson and Cameron! OMG!  Stop fan girling out!!  Too late!    Basically, she explained how she was vacationing on the Isle of Wight when during her research she was intrigued by the friendship between Tennyson and Cameron and wrote, Tennyson's Gift. Well, at least that's how I remember it at the time. You must understand I was star struck and trying hard to concentrate. Tennyson's Gift was one of the very first novels I read that humanized Tennyson for me and so to meet Lynn Truss in my home town city no less well, words fail. 

So, there we are time to sign books. When it was my time, I told her about my love of researching Cameron and Tennyson, my blog site, my previous review of Tennyson's Gift which she told me she would look up and read. Then I told her how much her novels mean to me, how much I derive from them personally, whether its for escapism or even my own research. I mentioned a friend's book on Julia Margaret Cameron which she did not know, and told her about my upcoming trip to the Isle of Wight which is why she inscribed my book thusly. Overall, she was wonderful to speak with and so grateful to every one who came. There was another woman who knew of her books and was so happy to speak with her but overall it was a very small crowd who had previously only known her for her puntuation book. Hopefully, that will change in the future. 

Here is my review of,  Tennyson's Gift


WoofWoof said…
Hello Kimberly, I finally completed reading "Tennyson's Gift"! It's always interesting to read something set in that wonderful Freshwater set but to be honest I was a bit disappointed with the book. I know it was a humerous book not exactly meant to be taken seriously. However I was annoyed by the portrayal of Tennyson - he comes over as totally self centred, vain, pompous etc. whereas from his poetry I imagine him to be kind with great empathy and especially a touching awareness of the sensitivities of women in particular, plus an almost prophet-like other worldliness. Also, she repeats the myth about him being smelly and dirty - based I think purely on the fact that he said that JMC's photo of him made him look like a dirty monk. The Circle of His Life documentary says that he liked to bathe twice daily so it can't really be true. I am sure he would have smelt of tobacco as was true of practically all men in those days. I thought the stuff about the phrenologists was well done and the characters of that family and JMC's household are well drawn. Also, I think she handles Lewis Carroll quite well. But some of the stuff which is meant to be comical, I didn't find very funny, the ending is not up to much, I didn't like her portrayal of Lady Tennyson, some of which was absurd. I also didn't like her insinuation that JMC burned with an unrequited passion for Tennyson for which I don't believe there is any evidence. As for the title, I still don't really get what "Tennyson's Gift" was. Having said all that, I have enjoyed other books by her eg a little book called "Tennyson's Circle" and I am sure she must be an interesting person to have met!
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi WoofWoof,

I completely respect your opinions and understand your perspective.I think she played up Alfred and Emily Tennyson's 'supposed' quirks to over do their characters and make them funny. I mean Freshwater by Virginia Woolf in my opinion was much worse. I couldn't stand reading her version of Freshwater and some of them were her own family members!
I enjoy comic farce to begin with so I think it was a bit easier for me to overlook her version of The Tennysons. Thanks so much for commenting.