If I had three wishes

Katie Fforde is pas begonnen met schrijven toen ze haar derde en laatste kind had gekregen. Huishoudelijk werk en strijken zijn één van haar hobby''s, maar heeft er maar weinig tijd voor, omdat ze te druk is met belangrijkere  dingen in het leven, zoals tuinieren, winkelen en tv kijken. En natuurlijk schrijven. Ter ere van haar nieuwste boek Een verleidelijk voorstel, schreef ze voor Chicklit.nl deze column. 

One of the reasons I like writing is it means I can give my heroines characteristics I don’t have myself. Through them I can experience what it’s like to be blonde (Flora in Flora’s Lot) or brave (almost any of them) or efficient (Sarah in Wedding Season). I can give myself skills I could never have had even if I’d had some natural ability. It’s brilliant! With a few well chosen words I can redecorate a house, build a staircase (Practically Perfect) or create a perfect venue for Christmas dinner with the aid of a barn door and some trees. The downside is these women aren’t real, or if they are, they are not my close neighbours. When the house is a tip and photographers are due it’s a great disappointment to me that they are just fiction, and even though I created these wonderful women, I am not wonderful myself.
In A Perfect Proposal I gave Sophie long legs and long bountiful hair and she could put up with the aid of a pencil or toothbrush and it would look gorgeous. If I had three wishes Long Legs And Thick Hair would come before World Peace and No Poverty. I am convinced my life would have been much happier if I’d had these qualities. But what I really envy about her is the fact she’s practical.
I once watched a builder increase the height of a wall near my house and it was like watching a painting being created. His easy movements, picking up the bricks one by one, adding a smear of mortar and adding them to the wall so they looked as if they’d always been there, were hypnotising. Having stared at him for a while I had to say hello and we got chatting. ‘Oh I’m not clever. I left school as soon as I could. Couldn’t do exams.’
Now I haven’t got many exams myself, I too left school early and I learnt to write by practising a lot. But I could never build a wall. Nor could I turn an uninspiring old sack from a charity shop into a ‘Ohmygoodness!’ dress with the aid of a sharp pair of scissors, a sewing machine and a few bugle beads.
My Sophie can! She’s that girl, the one I never will be, who can see at a glance how to make something wonderful out of something horrible – for almost no money. I’m quite good at the ideas part. I just recently passed on a pile of shrunken jumpers to a friend of my daughters so she can turn them into cushion covers. And I want them to look like jumpers, little shrunk ones, turned into cuddly pillows. But I couldn’t do it myself. I can hardly thread a needle let alone use one.
But Sophie’s family are not impressed by her practical skills because they have all passed lots of exams. For Sophie’s father, letters after your name, having been to a good university and excelled, is far more important than remembering to buy toilet paper or light bulbs. Or being able to cook nice meals out of left-overs. Or make a table cloth out of an old sheet without it looking like an old sheet.
Of course he’d be very upset if there was no loo paper or if nothing happened when he switched his desk lamp on but he doesn’t appreciate the one who made it happen. Basically, he thinks his daughter is pretty enough but a bit stupid. This is a mistake. The world is full of very talented people, who can work magic with wood, or steel or fabric , or who can unblock a sink, put up blinds or hang curtains so they don’t loop unattractively, but haven’t got paper qualifications. But do we value them as we ought? I don’t think so. Society celebrates exams and qualifications. A boasting parent gets more marks for a child with a second degree than they do for a daughter who built a chicken house single handed.
But if you were in a spot because your parents were coming to stay and you had no curtains in the spare room, would you rush round to the neighbour with the Master’s degree in Tibetan? No, you’d ask the one with the sewing machine who could add a bit of fabric to an old pair and make it look as if they were meant to be like that.
Sophie is like that, a heroine able to knit a really cool sweater out of a couple of unravelled ones – with very long legs and very good hair. Sadly, my legs aren’t going to grow longer now and I’m always going to be unable to sew straight. But through my books I can create women who can do anything I want to do. And passing exams isn’t everything.

Katie Fforde

Een verleidelijk voorstel

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    Sophie Apperly wordt niet serieus genomen door haar intellectuele familie, die haar praktische instelling regelmatig belachelijk maakt. Wanneer haar beste vriendin Milly haar uitnodigt om naar New York te komen, besluit ze dat het haar ondankbare familieleden goed zal doen het eens zonder haar te stellen. Maar dat is niet de enige reden...
    In New York kruist haar pad dat van Matilda, een vriendelijke oude dame, en haar kleinzoon Luke. Luke, een aantrekkelijke maar arrogante man, wantrouwt Sophies vriendschap met zijn grootmoeder. Hij doet Sophie een voorstel: hij zal haar helpen met haar geheime missie, als zij belooft iets voor hem te doen. Maar is Sophie bereid de prijs te betalen?

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