'Covid-19 ate my book!' - launching a book during a global pandemic
2020 had looked set to be an annus mirabilis for local author Dr Helen Moffett.
She was due to launch her first novel Charlotte with a series of high profile signings and festivals in South Africa and the UK and then embark on the trip of a lifetime with a close friend to research her second novel, the sequel to Charlotte.
But instead, she contracted pneumonia and the coronavirus pandemic abruptly put paid to any hope of launching her latest book either in South Africa or in England where it is set.
Moffett joined CapeTalk's Pippa Hudson on Wednesday to talk about the novel and how it's been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
I'm one of many authors whose book got eaten by the pandemic.Dr Helen Moffett, author 'Charlotte'
What's worse is that the state of the world is so dreadful that one feels terrible whining about it!Dr Helen Moffett, author 'Charlotte'
Of all of the things I had imagined, sitting at home with Covid pneumonia with a lampshade on my head, taking selfies was not how I imagined launching the book.Dr Helen Moffett, author 'Charlotte'
To celebrate #Charlotte being out in the world, yesterday I "dressed up". Here's my "bonnet" (a lampshade, in fact), my battered ARC, and a Regency locket featuring South African sunbirds + proteas (Charlotte is 100% English, but I'm not). @Zaffre #LockdownLaunch pic.twitter.com/0dkLOAxqkY— Dr Helen Moffett (@Heckitty) May 15, 2020
Charlotte picks up where the 19th-century novelist Jane Austen left off in her romantic 'novel of manners' Pride and Prejudice.
It follows the story of Charlotte Lucas, a secondary character in Austen's original book, described as 'sensible' and 'intelligent' and widely believed to have few prospects due to the fact she is 27, unmarried, plain and poor.
Moffett explains why she was so drawn to her:
I think it's because she gets a bad rap. She's seen as grasping and a little bit greedy...Dr Helen Moffett, author 'Charlotte'
In Pride and Prejudice Charlotte earns the judgment of her best friend Lizzy Bennet when she accepts the proposal of the local clergyman with whom she is not in love.
Moffett says she wanted to explore in-depth what that marriage may have looked like:
It's a rare thing in fiction where you see the consequences of a marriage...but you see the character of Charlotte Lucas - now Mrs Collins - making a good life for herself and her friends and her family.Dr Helen Moffett, author 'Charlotte'
I actually thought from the very beginning that Lizzy was too hard on her for judging her for accepting a proposal from a man she absolutely did not know or love.Dr Helen Moffett, author 'Charlotte'
Moffett says despite the period in which it is set, many of the themes in the book are relevant to women today:
I think the issues are extremely contemporary for women around the world.Dr Helen Moffett, author 'Charlotte'
The other thing that's feminist about her, and in fact, all people who are at the margins of society...is that they do have some degree of agency...so Charlotte is so clearly not a victim.Dr Helen Moffett, author 'Charlotte'
Listen to the full conversation below:
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