Mary Irvine review: Polly Clarke – the tiger lady! Booked! Festival
Booked! Festival Alexandria Library Friday, 17th May, 2019
Polly Clarke – the tiger lady!
Polly Clarke, born in Toronto, now domiciled in Helensburgh and London (where she does her writing on a houseboat) sashayed down the aisle in a stunning, single-tiger print dress which she later confided had been discovered on the Internet – a must buy for the presentation of her new book ‘Tiger’.
In interview with Allan Gordon she revealed the research behind the book, saying that to some extent the book had been pre-written. As a one-time zoo-keeper (Edinburgh) in charge of birds – men looked after the BIG animals – she developed an interest in and a love and admiration of tigers, not least because they were untameable. She did mention Aspinall’s opinion and work in this area.
In researching the book she travelled to Eastern Russia, concentrating on the Siberian tiger. Drawing pictures of a solitary animal protecting its 500 square miles of territory in Siberia, her vivid descriptions of its general size, in particular the paw, were truly awe inspiring. Polly clearly displayed her interest in the relationship between human and animal. In this she contrasted the differing relationships and this comes through in the novel, when the protagonist Frieda (a zoologist!) discovers the difference between humans/bonobos and humans/tigers. Polly was pleased the once critically endangered Siberian tiger was now recovering, not least because of the support and intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But she expressed sadness that no high profile supporter had stepped forward to do likewise for the endangered bonobos, whom I believe are human’s nearest relatives.
The book does, I suspect, draw heavily on Polly’s own work experiences for characters but, for me, the tiger is the real hero. And who doesn’t admire the magnificence of tigers – at a safe distance! It’s a book well worth the reading.
Larchfield, her much acclaimed debut novel published in 2017, won the MsLexia Novel Prize and was shortlisted for the 2018 Costa First Book award. It is also available on Amazon at £3.99 Kindle, £7.99 paperback and £10.99 hardback.
- Occupy! Occupy! Occupy! – graphic novel launch
- Mary Irvine’s Blog: Review – The Way Home by Robin Scott-Elliot
- Raw Poetry at Scottish Writers Centre
- The Rhynie Station: Grunnit Spring by Ian R. Mitchell
- Bloody Scotland 2022 McIlvanney Prize Long List
- Pitch Perfect at Bloody Scotland 2022
- Glasgow Literary Lounge at the Scotia Bar
- Scottish Writers: The Glass Cat by George Colkitto – Book Launch
- Book launch: ‘Meantime’ by Frankie Boyle
- The Glasgow Effect: Online Talk with Ellie Harrison
- The Feeling Sonnets – Carcanet Book Launch
- Scottish Writers Centre: Playwriting Workshop
- Sma’ Shot Day 2022
- The Voyage Out: The Travel Writing Workshop with Linda Jackson
- Stories of Our Worlds – Refugee Festival 2022
- Aye Write Three Debut Authors (interviewed by Matthew Keeley)
- Scottish Writers: Bloomsday Celebration with Christie Williamson
- Film + Q&A: Zev Robinson’s “Feeding the City”
- The Wanderlust Women – three poems
- Aye Write: Prof Dame Sue Black ‘The Books that Made Me