We all know books are magical.
I don’t live in Sevenoaks, I don’t even live in Kent, and yet I find myself constantly drawn to Sevenoaks Bookshop. A good bookshop will do that to you. Full disclosure, I know Fleur who works there, and first visited when, newly hired on the tills, she invited me to give a talk at the creative writing group the shop hosts. That’s another sign of a good bookshop: it engages with the community. Sevenoaks hold classes, festivals, signings. Their staff are passionate, their window displays works of art (often literally; they once hired illustrator Kate McEwen to design one). They even have a shop Morris Minor, a natty heritage blue number, straight from the pages of a Quentin Blake illustrated Roald Dahl story, that whizzes staff and guests round, and pops up on their Instagram.
They’re doing indies proud.
We all know books are magical. They soothe us, make us laugh, make us cry. And as much as they help us escape this world, they also illuminate it. When times are hard, you can slip between the pages of a book and find peace. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about. The comforting weight of a book in your hand, it’s scent. We’re all book people. We’re passionate about it. I remember my first tentative steps into an indie, one sadly long gone now. It was years before I started writing, before I made countless friends in the publishing industry, before I filled my address book and life with writers and readers and words. But it was a great moment of peace. A recognition. Standing in my first indie book shop I knew I’d found my people. I felt like I belonged. It’s a notion that works anywhere in the world. Wherever I’m a stranger, if I find an independent bookstore, I’m no longer alone.
Sevenoaks has gently curved, oak shelving, as if the building itself breathed in the smell of all those glorious books, and is caught in a perpetual exhaled sigh of contentment. It was founded in 1948 by the delightfully named Basil Krisch, in 1985 it passed to Winifred Scott, in 2000 to Valerie Glencross and Sarah Webb-Wilson, and in 2015 my friend Fleur, whose passion soon over-spilled her part-time role, became the new owner. Each owner has understood that a bookstore is more than simply a business. You have to choose the one you pass the torch on to carefully. Because like books themselves, we’re really only ever looking after an indie bookstore for the next generation.
Angela Clarke is the author of ‘Trust Me’, the brilliant third novel in the hugely popular social media murderer series.
15th June 2017
What do you do if you witness a crime…but no-one believes you?
When Kate sees a horrific attack streamed live on her laptop, she calls the police in a state of shock. But when they arrive, the video has disappeared – and she can’t prove anything. Desperate to be believed, Kate tries to find out who the girl in the video could be – and who attacked her.
Freddie and Nas are working on a missing persons case, but the trail has gone cold. When Kate contacts them, they are the only ones to listen and they start to wonder – are the two cases connected?
Reading copies available – email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy now