Join us for an evening with travel writer Ben Aitken, author of The Gran Tour, as he talks about his new book The Marmalade Diaries, a portrait of an intergenerational friendship.
Recently widowed, Winnie, 84, was in need of some companionship. Someone to help with the weekly food shop and offer tips on the crossword. Ben, 34, was looking for a new housemate.
As the UK was locked down in 2020, Ben and Winnie’s lives interwove, forming an unlikely friendship, where lessons were learnt (heat the red wine in the oven with the plates; preserve or pickle whatever you can; never throw anything away) and grief, both personal and that of a nation, was explored.
Charting both their time together, and the details of Winnie’s life that are shared with Ben in fragments, The Marmalade Diaries, from the author of The Gran Tour, is a very human exploration of home, of the passage time, of the growing relationship between an odd couple, told with warmth, wit and candour.
Ben Aitken followed Bill Bryson around the UK for Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes from a Small Island (2015) then moved to Poland to understand why everyone was leaving. A Chip Shop in Poznan: My Unlikely Year in Poland (2019) is the fruit of that unusual migration. For The Gran Tour: Travels with my Elders (2020), the author went on six package coach holidays – Scarborough, Llandudno, Lake Como et al – with people twice or thrice his age in order to see what they had to say for themselves and to narrow the generation gap a notch. An updated edition of Dear Bill Bryson is being published this February.
Ben Aitken writes with wit, insight and humour and his books are brilliantly observed. We look forward to welcoming Ben to Booka for what should be an enlightening and entertaining event.
Tickets: £7 without book (Admits One, ticket redeemable against a signed copy of The Marmalade Diaries) or £17 with book (Admits One, includes a signed copy of The Marmalade Diaries). Tickets available from the bookshop or purchase online (with booking fee).