Category Archives: Books

Christmas and giving ‘Woman in the White Coat’ and Visiting ‘The Singing Tree’ at the V&A.

The Singing Tree by ES Devlin

This year the V&A Christmas tree, the Singing Tree by Es Devlin, is made up of sound and light.


Composed of birch ply, steel cable and projected light, you can hear the tree ‘singing’ as you move round it.


The individual little plaques bear printed words from visitors placed in the collection box or online.

Presentaion at Pimlico Library

At the talk I gave at Pimlico library last Wednesday I was delighted to have people saying they were buying copies of my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ to give as Christmas presents.

It’s also available on Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iBooks et as well as on Kindle.

And lovely seeing some of my dearest friends there.

Fantastic! ‘Woman in a White Coat’ in Paperback as well as on Amazon Kindle

So pleased that after a fairly horrendous experience with a company putting my memoir Woman in a White Coat on Amazon, my memoir is available for pre-order at £9.99 from Amazon or from your local bookstore. Had a wonderful trio of professionals – Nathan Burton Cover designer, M Rules Typesetters and Clays the Printers.

Another colourway

The cover designer, Nathan Burton, produced lots of possible designs for the cover. I could have chosen any one – they were so great. I chose the blue and turquoise version of this design but nearly picked this one instead.


Cover used for publication




it’s bright and cheerful but I felt the colourway I chose had more gravitas!!



Abby as a young dental stud


This was the most striking design but I didn’t want to use a picture of me. I chose to write my memoir under the pseudonym of Dr Abby J Waterman and so I didn’t pick this one.

The original photograph is of me with a ‘phantom head’ – a metal skull into which plaster casts are fixed bearing real teeth that have ben extracted for reasons such as periodontal disease.

We practiced cutting cavities and inserting fillings and crowns on them. We gave them names and got quite fond of them!!

It’s so easy to ePublish with PRONOUN

The Pronoun Website

I commissioned PublishNation to put my memoir Woman in a White Coat on Amazon, but used Pronoun (now part of Macmillan) to publish my book on a variety of other platforms including Kobo, Google, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Bibliotheca and Overdrive.

What a great experience!! As I am now an 86-year-old, I expected some difficulty, but it couldn’t have been easier. And they were fantastic at answering my queries by email.

Read all about me


I didn’t use them for Amazon because while they offer 70% royalties to US authors they only offer 41%  to those in the UK. If I write another book, I might consider using them for Amazon too – though as I pointed out to Pronoun, it seems most unfair that authors on this side of the pond will earn so much less!!

Canaletto and The Art of Venice at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Also with paintings and drawings by his contemporaries

Another fascinating exhibition of paintings and drawings from the Queen’s own collection.

I can take or leave Canaletto’s paintings – they all look too similar to me and too yellow – nothing like the colourful Venice of my memory – but I loved his drawings – especially the early designs for the theatre., where he started his career. His drawings show his great sense of humour as well as his compassion.


A view of the Rialto

His paintings and drawings of Venice would have been a must for wealthy Englishmen making their Grand Tour.

Interesting drawings and paintings by his contemporaries included some by Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Francesco Zuccarelli, Rosalba Carriera, Pietro Longhi and Giovanni Batista Piazzetta.

We have George III to thank for the collection. He bought Joseph Smith’s entire stock for £20,000 in 1762 – some 15,000 books, 500 paintings, drawings etc.

I personally prefer Canaletto’s paintings of London and its surroundings, carried out during his repeated visits to England 1746-1755, but obviously not included in this exhibition.


Sainsbury's Cookbook Volume 1
Sainsbury’s Cookbook Volume 1

Like all my friends who cook regularly and don’t buy takeaways, I already have too many cookbooks but the two published by Sainsbury’s were irresistible.

At the end of a big shop at their Kensington branch, Josh bought Volume 1 and I’ve already cooked three of the recipes, including these delicious Chicken Rolls. This week I went back to buy Volume 2.  For some reason they are not on the Sainsbury’s website and when I phoned the branch they said they hadn’t any – but they did and I bought one!!

Delicious little chicken rolls
Delicious little chicken rolls

Before cooking them, I cut some of the chicken-filled puff pastry rolls into 7cm lengths to have with gravy, Boulangiere potatoes (from the cookbook) and flat beans. The rest I cut into these little 4cm lengths to have as snacks instead of sausage rolls.

When we got married in 1956 I could just about cook omelettes and minestrone so when I finished my second house job as a newly qualified doctor I went to a six-week all day Good Housekeeping cookery course.

Memoir extract from Woman in a White Coat Vol 2 Chapter 4

When I finished my second house job,   I was five months pregnant with Simon and already showing, so I was unlikely to find a part-time temporary job in medicine. I was doubly qualified, having qualified as a dental surgeon 6 years before, but I couldn’t face the thought of standing all day in a dental practice, though it would have been quite easy to find a locum dental appointment. . Continue reading YET ANOTHER COOK BOOK – SAINSBURY’S THIS TIME


Goldsboro Books in Cecil Court WC2
Goldsboro Books in Cecil Court WC2

David Headley, who heads DHH Literary Agency and with Daniel Gedeon owns Goldsboro books, together with Clays, who print both self-published books and books from mainstream publishers, last week hosted a most informative  evening, Indie Insights, about self-publishing at the Goldsboro Bookshop in Cecil street.

Andrew Lowe from Andrew Lowe Editorial gave a talk about the need for meticulous editing; Mark Ecob from MECOB design spoke about cover design – and later sent me copies of some of his fabulous covers, James Bond from Whitefox emphasized the need for a concerted publicity campaign, while David Headley finished with a talk about the advantages of being published in the more traditional way.

For me the take home messages were that self-published books need to be as professionally produced as those put out by the main publishing houses, that self-publishing requires a lot of effort and a not inconsiderable amount of money if the result is to be first class but that it can be extremely rewarding for the author who has so much more control over the finished product. Self-published books really start to make money with the first reprint since the origination costs have now been covered.



One of The Times giveaway books
One of The Times giveaway books

I’d always wanted to attend one of Patricia Sweeney’s Film of the Book courses at the CityLit but thought they were held in the evening, when I hate going to classes. It dates from when Joshua and I were both working. I left while he was still in bed and we only really saw each other in the evening.

This term I saw that the course was during the day and enrolled before it was over-subscribed – as Patricia’s classes always are!! The films we are studying are Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Bonjour Tristesse and The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Patricia is always an inspiring tutor and the first sessions on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde promise an interesting look at the relationship between the two media  – a book being a solo performance while the film is multidisciplinary.

Splendid New Foyles Bookshop

107 Charing X Road
107 Charing X Road

Founded in 1903 by brothers William and Gilbert Foyle, Foyles is now in a splendid new building opened in 2014.

My son complains about the death of bookshops largely at the hands of Amazon, but in London Foyles, Waterstons and Daunt’s in Marylebone High Street are bucking the trend.

It’s a catch22 situation. Living as we do in Victoria, there are no bookshops in easy walking distance and having Amazon available means I can buy books with ease, though Foyles has a very  competitive email service.

Very welcoming message
Very welcoming message – Welcome booklover, you are among friends
Bus stop just outside
Bus stop right outside Foyles, a couple of stops from Charing Cross Library




An excellent book on WordPress

Create your own site using WordPress in a weekend by Alannah moore
Create your own website using WordPress in a weekend by Alannah Moore

I borrowed several books from Charing Cross library on WordPress but this book by Alannah Moore  is definitely the best.

I usually use the sticky tags shown on the right of the image but they had fallen down behind my desk  so I had to use the butterflies instead. You can see just how many pages I’ve marked and I’ve already removed some from the first part of the book.

Well done Alannah Moore and her publisher ILEX press. Liked  their books on blogging too.