Lesley Allen – The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir

Dark blue background with blue and white leaves, berries and flowers. Seated is a barefoot young girl with sketchbook and pen.

Author
Lesley Allen
Title
The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir
Cover design
None credited but I think the floral part of the illustration is by Anna Paff on Shutterstock. Maybe she was commissioned to create the cover.
Publisher (UK)
The Twenty7 Books imprint of Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date
2016

The cover

The current cover is a pretty illustration of a young girl sitting sketching on what looks to be a beanbag (or is it a rock? That fits in more with the story) while the rest of the cover is taken up with hand-drawn leaves, berries and bird silhouettes. It’s lovely. It’s just not right for this novel.

I’d love to see a newly commissioned cover to celebrate the next milestone – like selling the film rights (surely imminent) or maybe the first anniversary of publication. Or maybe when it’s selected to be taught in schools across Ireland and the UK for the GCSE curriculum? (Yes, the book is that good and that important!).

As others have pointed out, descriptions of Biddy include a “halo of sunlight highlighting her wild copper curls” and “pale eyes glistening like slivers of broken glass” while she “looked like a miserable angel” lead the reader to imagine a far different heroine than the “generic girl with notepad” currently depicted and I’m hopeful that we’ll see a new cover one day.

I suppose a special copper foil edition would be too much to hope for? Those of us who have fallen in love with Biddy Weir through Lesley Allen’s lyrical writing would be delighted to buy a second, forever copy, maybe something like this:
Man on top of mountain, night sky behind him, gold foil text for book's title, The Glory of Heaven.

Reviews

There are some excellent reviews of this wonderful novel out there, not just on Amazon and GoodReads but by independent book bloggers. Here are some of the best:

  • Rosie Amber. She also includes a really interesting interview with author Lesley Allen that explains the structure of the novel:
  • Fast forward a few years and I’d finally found my groove again. My second novel was taking shape, and Biddy had been neatly tucked away in a drawer somewhere, the key discarded. But then a friend visited from San Francisco. He asked if he could read Biddy, and after a few gin and tonics, I finally agreed. He called from SF a few weeks later. “Well, I loved it,” he proclaimed – I knew a BUT was coming – “but, have you ever thought of moving the telephone scene to the beginning?” I hadn’t. Of course I flipping hadn’t. And there was no way I was going down that road again. Biddy was over. Dead in the water. Done. But his suggestion kept flitting into my head like an annoying fruit fly, until eventually it stuck there. Okay, I sighed, I give in. So I found the key, opened the drawer, and dragged the manuscript out. Three months later, after a total re-write and valuable feedback from a very respected and totally lovely author friend, I pinged Biddy Weirdo mark two off to my agent. She loved it, and so began the submission process all over again. Initial responses were positive; a few rejections tinged with regret that, for whatever reason, they couldn’t or wouldn’t make a bid … oh, we’ve been here before, haven’t we?

  • Emma Hamilton at Buried Under Books
  • Katherine Sunderland at Bibliomaniac
  • A brave and personal take in Bullying Awareness Week from The Writing Garnet
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