Arts & Culture

Author to share writing challenges

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:40 PST, Thu January 16, 2020

Last Updated: 3:52 PST, Wed January 22, 2020

Vancouver-based author Ann Pearson will talk about the challenges of writing fiction when she visits the Richmond Public Library next week.

A former instructor at UBC, Pearson has written a historical travelogue set in Italy in the 1800s called ‘A Promise on the Horizon.’ She has always admired French novelist Stendhal, but it wasn’t until recently that she discovered the man behind the pseudonym as revealed in his intimate diaries.

“His frankness can still surprise the modern reader,” she says.

The novel takes readers to the waning months of 1811, when a 38-year-old Henri Beyle (as Stendhal was still known) took a two-month unauthorized leave from his job with Napoleon’s bureaucracy to travel to Italy.

Intrigued by the mention in his diary of finding a book by English feminist Mary Wollstonecraft in the Paris-Milan stage coach, Pearson has envisaged the owner of that book as an independent woman, desperate to escape her narrow provincial existence, setting off alone for Italy. Each is drawn by Italy’s rich cultural heritage, but what they encounter is  a country in the ferment of social and political change under Napoleons reforming energies.

“Stendhal kept copious notes his Italian journey which I could reframe and interweave with fictional events to create this moment in the Napoleonic era when a threatened invasion of Russia is on the horizon,” Pearson explains.

Pearson’s visit to the main Brighouse branch of the Richmond Public Library is scheduled for Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. Registration is required. Call 694-231-6413 or visit yourlibrary.ca/events for more details.

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