“Literature is news that STAYS news.”*

*Ezra Pound, in “ABC of Reading“.

Author and “Archers” superfan Joanna Trollope telephoned a report to the BBC R4 Today programme this morning. The station is celebrating seventy years of the radio soap drama. Trollope recalled a particular episode of December 2002, which she heard as she was driving to a friend’s home for lunch. “Gobsmacked”, she drew into a farm gateway to pay attention. She told listeners this morning that her first husband had been a philanderer; hence the emotional impact of an episode in which philandering Brian is obliged to confess to his wife.

Over lunch with her friend, Trollope discussed infidelity and lying. Her omelette and salad went uneaten, for she felt unable to apply herself “to something as mundane as food”.

Claire Armitstead interviewed the author for The Guardian on 2.3.20:

“…with popular success came a particular sort of literary scorn that is reserved for writers of middle-brow women’s fiction. The term “Aga saga” was invented by a (male) critic in 1992 to describe novels that, like hers, were largely set among middle-class families from small country towns (she has pointed out that Agas feature in only two of her novels). Does she think she has suffered from the label? “Yes,” she says. “Being categorised in this very narrow way has meant that it has been easy to dismiss the novels. And that is terribly patronising to the readership.”…

Fiction, she suggests, “can be a physical confessional: when you’re within the covers of a book, you can admit to all kinds of things that you can’t otherwise. It’s also where you learn about the rest of human life and where you get your most profound experience of life – except from actually living it.” “.

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