I had a wonderful time on Thursday evening launching The Serpent Pool at St Deiniol’s Residential Library in Hawarden, North Wales. For a variety of unfortunate reasons, I’ve had to cancel a number of events lately, as well as a planned trip to the US to promote the book and attend Left Coast Crime, which has been disappointing. But the launch audience was extremely friendly and enthusiastic and I had the pleasure of signing plenty of books.
I must say that I’ve been thrilled by the response to The Serpent Pool. Already there have been some really wonderful reviews, for which I’m most grateful, as well as reactions from readers (both those who have read my books in the past and those who have not). I’ve collected extracts from the reviews here.
St Deiniol’s Library was founded, as I’ve mentioned previously, by William Ewart Gladstone, four times Prime Minister, whose descendants still live in Hawarden. The launch took place in the Gladstone Room, and it was possible to forget this long, miserable winter when warmed by a splendid open fire and the spirit of good fellowship that pervades the place.
For me, it was a special treat not only to dine at St Deiniol’s, but to stay overnight in the library’s very well appointed residential accommodation. Last summer, I was told about St Deiniol’s by a fellow crime writer who has stayed there a good many times, and who finds the unique atmosphere highly conducive to both reading and writing. Now that I have sampled the St Deiniol’s experience, I can see exactly what she meant. The library is fantastic, and there is a separate, smallish but interesting collection of modern fiction first editions (which, I noticed, includes a first edition of Colin Dexter’s debut novel…) If you ever want to stay somewhere in the North West that is modestly priced yet quite delightful, checking out St Deiniol’s should be a priority.
The launch was organised by Annette Lewis, the St Deiniol’s Development Officer, who made sure everything went with a swing. There will almost certainly be a Lake District residential library in my next novel. But despite the inspiration that I’ve found in Hawarden, my fictional library will be very different – St Deiniol’s is a place to be cherished, and also one that you really couldn’t make up.