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Hopkins, Gladstone and The Hopkins Conundrum

At the annual Monasterevin Hopkins festival in County Kildare, Ireland, earlier this month, the leading Hopkins scholar Dr Norman White was kind enough to mention my novel in his lecture on Hopkins and Gladstone – and indeed to include it in his title.

“I just want to say something about Simon Edge’s recent book The Hopkins Conundrum,” he said. “It’s often said that an article or report should end on an upbeat note, so my final offering is on this remarkable, upbeat book. It’s a healthy, positive novelty to Hopkins literature and Hopkins people. Also it doesn’t need preliminary reading and knowledge – it’s for a new generation, people without Hopkins preconceptions.

“And yet, Simon Edge has done his homework. Most of the first section of the book gets among those five nuns boarding, and then suffering the wreck of, the Deutschland. It’s totally new writing but it’s completely convincing to me, and authentic. I hadn’t realised that part of the story, of the Deutschland’s wrecking on the Goodwin Sands, could be describable or even would be worth describing, and Edge achieves that, I think.

“The other remarkable novelty of the book is a feat of which I’m very envious, not being a creative person myself. Edge puts modern-day people into a plot with the established story of the 1875 wreck. Again this appears to me completely successful and it’s a very good read indeed.”

It’s true, I did do a lot of homework – I have two of Norman’s books on my shelf to prove it. That’s why I’m delighted to win his approval.

His review of my novel comes right at the end, at about 41mins, but the whole lecture is well worth watching.

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