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The author of 'Always you, Edina' cracks our critic up

Laura Muldoon

Mon, 21 May 2012 09:16:51 GMT | Updated 4 years today

Gay's The Word bookshop in Bloomsbury was full to bursting in anticipation of V G Lee reading an excerpt from her new book Always You, Edina. A quick panic arose in me as I struggled to find a seat amongst the keen literary fans and the recognisable hush had descended before I sat down. Someone called 'Clare' seemed to be sitting in my seat of choice near-ish the front (but not *too* near). The 'Clare' in question was actually none other than Clare Summerskill, lesbian comedienne, who I then secretly ogled for the next half an hour or so.

V G Lee or 'Val' as she was referred to by Uli, our host for the night and events manager at  Gay's The Word, needed little introduction before reading an excerpt from her new book Always You, Edina. Described by Sarah Waters as 'A real treat of a novel', the book circles around Bonnie, a pre-teen living in 1960s Britain in a working class family where money is tight and the relationships are constantly evolving and complex.

Val told us that the novel was partly autobiographical and is set in Small Heath in Birmingham where she spent the first five years of her life. You could see that Valerie's kind and warm nature and in particular her humour seeped through into the excerpt she was reading as the astute and rambunctious Bonnie trawls through jumble sales and white elephants to feed her new obsession with 'finding woolens'. Dressed in black velvet and a golden threaded scarf Valerie revealed that the title character in the book, Edina, is Bonnie's aunt and Bonnie spends much of her time with Edina or 'Ed's' daughter Susan whilst also idolising Joanna Bayliss, the most popular girl in her school.

Val explained to the audience that how on her 60th birthday she decided to become a stand-up comedienne and to perform 60 gigs. 60 soon turned into 90 and she received much acclaim on the circuit even becoming a runner up in the Hackney Empire's New Act of the Year competition 2010 and appearing twice at Edinburgh, although did admit that particularly macho, male audiences tend to hate her. Her natural humour was obvious to everyone present as she charmed us all with her beautiful and visual writing and her quietly confident responses to an audience Q+A.

When asked how contemporary young people could relate to Bonnie and her story she responded that Bonnie could really be born in any age and like all of us is just seeking approval, searching for role models and has needs and wants which are universal to many.

Always You, Edina is out now and available from priced £9.99

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