'Super impressive book'
'It certainly brought back a lot of memories and feelings, and I can remember that wish for a letter from home and the feeling when it came - I cannot cope with what they are saying. And the guilt...The first time you mentioned the diamond earrings - that was masterly...'
'A story of the head and the heart, moving and engaging'
'...pacing and social observation.'
'...particularly liked learning about Burma...admiration for your knowledge of music...love scenes very tender...subtle exploration of racial prejudice'
Events: August 1 Book signing at Iain Rennie Bookshop in Tring
September Sat morning, eptember 17, 11 am. Waterstones in Berkhamsted
September 7, 6.30-7.30 at Greenwich Centre Library, a Library Late Author's Talk and Readings
September 14, 11 am, Coffee morning reading at Askew Road Library, Shepherds Bush, W12 9AS
September 15, 7 pm, Talk/reading at Kingston Library, KT1 2PS
September 23, 7 pm, Book launch at Travelling Through bookshop, 131 Lower Marsh, SE1
Author event at Croydon Library, date tbc
December 3 2.30-4.30, literary event at Berkhamsted Quaker Meeting House
In his play ‘A Woman of No Importance’ Oscar Wild satirises hypocritical attitudes to marriage and extra marital affairs and illustrates how long concealed secrets can come back to haunt the relationships of the present. Above all he voices the desire of the alienated to find a place in society and shows the sacrifices a mother makes to secure the career of her son. Such is the focus of ‘A Person of Significance’ by Marjorie Lazaro who narrates the struggle of Gad a young Burmese immigrant to establish himself as a concert pianist in 1950’s London. Gad’s story details his experience of prejudice and social disapproval as he negotiates, first a courtship, then marriage with Therese a young French woman. Whereas Wilde sets his action in the sophisticated but sterile world of the privileged upper class salons of London, Gads story plays out against the background of the streets and squares of 1950s London so convincingly realised you can practically smell the places and hear the passing traffic.
Literally at the centre of the action is Gad and Therese’s marriage which follows the account of their courtship and their determination to overcome the inevitable obstacles facing a young couple in a mixed race relationship with no money. As in Puccini’ opera, the lovers and their group of friends share a bohemian existence however, unlike Puccini’s lovers this romance, though not without its dark sadnesses, ends happily.
The narrative is framed on a pattern of oppositions between Eastern and Western Culture, men and women, Asian and European races, faith and scepticism, and seeks to explore both the social tensions these create as well as how, like harmony and dissonance in a musical score, these can be integrated and transcended to achieve something both beautiful and meaningful. Gad’s aspiration to become a professional pianist is counterpointed by Theresa’s pragmatic approach to the constraints imposed on their relationship by their lack of money. Both suffer loss through death and when a painful secret that haunts Therese is brought to the surface by the actions of the spoilt and privileged ‘friend’ Valerie it threatens to wreck Theresa’s marriage to Gad.
Overall the novel is a distillation of youthful love amid the intolerance of 1950’s London. It is difficult to believe that such painfully humiliating abuse the young couple encounter on the streets of London happened within living memory. ‘A Person of Significance’ both reminds us of this uncomfortable fact and hopefully helps to ensure such hostility to unconventional love such as that experienced by Wilde never returns.
by Glyn Churchill
Dorset born writer and musician, Marjorie Lazaro arrived in 1950s London, where she married her Burmese husband. She was a teacher, farm worker, has worked for a major charity and in IT, and travelled from Chicago and Bolivia to Albania and Malaya. She plays violin, keyboard and African drums.