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.
This section: Book and Event Reviews, Books, Talks, Poetry Events
- Future Stories – Scottish Book Trust
- ‘the lactic acid in the calves of your despair’ poetry collection by Ali Whitelock
- New Collection of Poems: Poor Wurld by Jim Ferguson
- The Clearing: A memoir of art, family and mental health by Samantha Clark
- The Siren Awakes – memoir by Linda Jackson
- Blessed Assurance by Stewart Ennis
- ‘Doors tae Naewye’ poetry by Christie Williamson
- Poor Wurld by Jim Ferguson – Book Launch Party Postponed
- Keeping Time novel by Thomas Legendre
- Much Left Unsaid by Finola Scott – poetry
- Freddy Anderson, Afternoon of Literature, Poetry and Song
- Women Writers: Maria Marchinadu, Tracy Patrick and Eloise Oui
- Neu Reekie at Aye Write
- Aye Write: Andrew Greig and Chris Agee
- Glasgow Film Festival 2020, The August Virgin review Fionnuala Boyle
- Christie Williamson – Doors tae Naewye Launch at Express Yourself
- Remember Tom Leonard, CCA
- Ali Whitelock and Skye Loneragan – Scottish Writers Centre
- Aye Write: Ferlie Leed – The Rhymer on his Hoalidays
- Literary Legends Book Stall – International Women’s Week