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Rachel Johnson loves a good quest

Heard Rachel Johnson discussing her new novel on Radio 4.  Winter Games tells the loosely fictionalised story of her mother-in-law who was sent to Germany as a deb in the 1930s. Basically “Debs Shagging Nazis” – as one of her characters points out.

Rachel wrote a cover blurb for my last book: “I love a good quest and could not speak to anyone until I’d finished The Letter in the Bottle”. So I email her and tell her that I too am currently working on the diaries of a young girl who goes to Dresden in the 1930s to be finished, falls in love with a gorgeous German student, only to discover he is Jewish. Does she remember my last book? She tells me that she has even included a reference to it in her Winter Games. I rush out and buy it.

Every time I turn on the radio, there she is. We go off to watch Have I got News for You being recorded. There she is again – a panellist, with Roger Moore. The recording is interminable, Sir Roger looks bemused but still witty, and all are in awe of his legendary status.

I finish reading her book on the train home. Relief – it’s very different from mine. But nevertheless spooky. Her heroine is given a treasure box, with clues to her grandmother’s past experience in Germany. “Francie loved a quest… She’d even read an entire book about a woman who found an anonymous letter written by a mother to a dead son in a bottle on a beach.” And there am I finished with my bottle quest, but now sitting surrounded by piles of old diaries from the 1930s…

I feel stalked! Rachel Johnson probably does too.

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