UK | 2003
Tim Pears was born in 1956. He is a graduate of the National Film and Television School. His first novel,
In the Place of Fallen Leaves, won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature and the Ruth Hadden Memorial Award. His second novel,
In a Land of Plenty, has been a major BBC television series. His last two novels,
A Revolution of the Sun and
Wake Up, have been variously published all over the world. He actually lives in Oxford.
I have two young children, and am the worst sort of besotted parent: too damned fond of their company, unable to put distance between them and my body and mind. Distance is the great necessity for writing the most mediocre of novels, to reach a depth of concentration and detachment that makes writers impossible to live with. So it was with enormous relief and anticipation that I found myself in the Tower of Santa Maddalena, and after a profound night’s sleep I accomplished a grand day’s work. The following week alternated sweet bouts of writing with an unexpected and – to one leading so cocooned a domestic life – enormously enjoyable whirl of activity as some of Beatrice’s many delightful friends came to stay and play. Lunch at Fonterutoli with count Mazzei and his family, owners of the finest vineyards in Chianti; meals with epicureans in the best restaurants in Florence and Tuscany (oh Pelago! Oh Pasquale!); shopping trips to designer outlets; a press conference in Florence, and a prestigious reading; a weird and beautiful evening at the house of Sandro the singing baker of Donnini, regaling us in formal attire as we ate a meal of countless courses. Sadly, the roundabout wound down. The hunting season slowed, the rain began to fall, and one really was obliged to pick up one’s pen and work flat out. There followed two weeks of furious, hugely welcome, work, for which this writer is sincerely grateful. Half way through the first draft of a novel, hopefully the momentum to roll home with it. Santa Maddalena is a special place. One wishes Beatrice and her advisor only the best in what she says is her greatest challenge ahead, that of finding a suitable administrator for the Retreat, to ensure that her wonderful vision is extended into the future. One must hope that all those of us who profess to love this place, and to have benefited fom its magic, may do what we can to secure its future.