Mon 3 Jun 2024
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Debut historical novelists: Sarah Marsh & Elizabeth O’Connor image

We welcome two celebrated debut novelists who we feel sure will appeal to lovers of historical fiction.
In A Sign of Her Own, Sarah Marsh tells the story of Ellen Lark, a deaf woman on the verge of marriage. She and her fiancé receive an unexpected visit from Alexander Graham Bell, who had instructed her in speaking in a technique called Visual Speech. Bell had confided in her about his dream of producing a device to transmit the human voice along a wire: the telephone. Now, on the cusp of wealth and renown, Bell wants Ellen to support his claim to the patent. But Ellen has a different story to tell: that of how Bell betrayed her and other deaf pupils.
One of The Observer’s Ten Debut novelists for 2024, Elizabeth O’Connor’s beautiful, devastating debut Whale Fall tells a story of longing and betrayal. Set in 1938, Manod is a young woman living on a remote island off the coast of Wales just as the world looks ready to end – and she is trying to imagine a future for herself. When two anthropologists arrive from the mainland, Manod sees a rare chance to leave the island and discover the life she has been searching for.
Sarah and Elizabeth will be in conversation with Sue Wall, Festival Trustee.