Rush Wishart was in sparkling form again today as she interviewed Orange Prize for Fiction winner, Linda Grant about her new novel, We Had It So Good. While taking their seats on the RBS Main tent stage, Wishart quipped: “That’s the kind of handbag that doubles as a filing cabinet,” much to the amusement of the audience.
“We baby boomers were the generation that wasn’t supposed to grow up,” said Grant launching into the background to her new book. “We were supposed to stay young forever. In the period between adolescence and adulthood, we think we know who we are—know who the real us is.”
Grant’s reading consisted of a hilarious section about Ivan, an anarchist who is recommending that “LSD is an old-school drug because it takes so much time; 8 hours to do it then another two days to recover! How are you meant to fit anything else in round about that?”
But the larger issues surrounding Grant’s book were never far from being analysed. “Perhaps our parents’ lives were more interesting than we thought they were when we were growing up,” she said. “And at some level we certainly refer to their lives to see how far we’ve come in our own.”
Looking back fondly at the 60s and all it stood for, Grant commented that “the only revolution in the 60s worth its salt was feminism and we were responsible for that—the baby boomers.” When asked how she thought this political view sits with modern girls of the same age, Grant said: “Young girls often say to me that they can’t be bothered with feminism any more, and its not because we’ve done the job. So I say to them, do they really want to go back to the day when they had to get their husband’s signature so they can apply for their own credit card?”
In We Had It So Good, Grant is trying to capture what it is to be married today, to be in a marriage that is not one wanting to develop, but rather fighting to just keep it together. “What’s it like to be in a marriage that you need to hang onto for the love of the children?” she asks. “Besides, I wanted to explore other ideas—you can’t do sexual politics in every book.”
Grant tied up her fascinating hour with confirmation that there will be a sequel to this latest novel and that she is due to start work on it imminently. “The characters are going to be forced to face up to their difficulties,” she said with determination, “and want to follow that through.”