A Celebration of #WonderfulWomen – who do you nominate?

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One week today, my second novel The Girl and the Sunbird will be published. To help celebrate this, in the week leading up to this I’m launching the #WonderfulWomen campaign. I’d LOVE for you to take part. Here’s what it’s all about…

Think of any female, alive or dead, personally known or unknown to you, even fictional; a woman who you think is just amazing, a woman who has inspired / encouraged / moved / helped / supported / motivated you in some way.

We all know somebody like that, right?

As I’ve got to know my character of Iris from The Girl and the Sunbird whilst working on this novel over the past couple of years, like any novelist, she has become real to me and I admire this brave, wise and curious woman hugely. Just as I often joke that I was born in the wrong century (I still write letters, don’t have a smart phone, only converted to digital photography recently…the list could go on), Iris is a woman born ahead of her time. Had she been born today, she would have been allowed to study at university, would not have been forced through the debutante “marriage mart” (Byron) debacle, could have chosen her own husband and her relationship with a man with skin a different colour from hers would be far from the scandal it was one hundred years ago. Living here in multi-cultural Nairobi, I often think of Iris when I see mixed race couples and their children with the skin of a hundred hues.

There are so, so many wonderful women I could talk about here. But I have decided to nominate my wonderful maternal grandmother, Christine Thompson. Accomplished musician, fabulous cook and conversationalist, mother to six children and grandmother to thirteen, Christine was the kind of person you simply felt good in their company, one of these people who spread a warm glow of kindness, sincerity and optimism about them. She has a brief cameo appearance in The Girl and the Sunbird (just as my father did in The Poet’s Wife), written about in a letter from Iris’s father to Iris  as the ‘new organist’ at the church in Bourn, Cambridgeshire. (She really was the organist there.) I could write so much about her, but what I’d rather leave with you with a few memories and photographs:

* The way she would throw her hands high into the air when we visited, screeching with joy and excitement, the tip of her nose glowing pink

*Her infectious laugh that would go on and on, often causing tears to roll down her cheeks

The incredible teas that Chris (also known as ‘Granny Teacups’) put on with scotch pancakes, ‘Granny biscuits’, cakes and endless cuppas piled high with sugar when the grown-ups weren’t looking.

*The way her fingers came alive at the piano and, really, any instrument she touched.


Christine in 2004, the year she died


Christine and her beloved Eric in 2002. They were married for over 60 years.


Chris and Eric’s six children, 1954. My mother is Elizabeth, the eldest


The young Christine, 1943

So, who’s the wonderful woman in your life that you’d like to nominate? Please tweet about it (with the #WonderfulWomen hashtag), put it on facebook, send me an email, leave a comment on this blog, post a photograph, whatever you can think of.

Please join me and let’s celebrate the #WonderfulWomen in our lives.


3 replies
  1. Renita D'Silva
    Renita D'Silva says:

    A wonderful post! I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of The Girl and the Sunbird and LOVED Iris. I would like to nominate my mum, Hilda. She is kind, generous, forgiving, wise – the most wonderful person I know.


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