Isabel Ashdown’s Glasshopper: the Simon Mayo Review

It was wonderful to see so many friendly faces at my book signing at Waterstone’s on Saturday.

 Last week, my Godmother, Valerie, appeared unexpectedly at a book reading – we’d last met when I was just six months old.  It was very moving and she brought family photographs I’d never seen before.  I was deeply touched that she had tracked me down, and gone to the effort of coming all this way with her daughter Rachel.

Well, this weekend I had the pleasure of meeting one of my old Brownie leaders, and was able to apologise for being a very poor Brownie indeed.  I wasn’t very successful on the badge front, and I threw in the towel straight after the long-awaited Butlin’s trip . . .

A few old workmates and family friends popped in, some of whom I hadn’t seen for over twenty years, and I was delighted to chat to a couple of my father’s old colleagues, who had tales to tell from his Bishop Otter days.  Then there were all the other people I met for the first time – thanks to you for stopping by and buying the book.  And of course, thanks to Jonathon and the Waterstone’s team for making me so welcome.

A number of you told me you were sorry to have missed the Simon Mayo interview on BBC Radio 5 Live, so I’ve pasted some of the highlights below:

Simon Mayo BBC Radio 5

On Thursday 29th October, I visited the BBC studios in Wood Lane to meet Simon Mayo and his team of reviewers, to hear their verdict on my debut novel, Glasshopper.  Here are some of the things they had to say:

It’s an incredibly powerful, intense book.  Very, very real. Boyd Hilton, reviewer

Mary is brilliant; she’s absolutely present throughout. Lemn Sissay, poet, writer & critic

It’s an incredibly convincing boy’s voice; an incredibly convincing woman’s voice.  It’s very subtle, and subtlety is the key to this.  The tragedy is happening behind the words and behind what people are saying, and you could be forgiven for wanting to read it again to catch all the nuances. Joel Morris, reviewer

It made me cry.  That’s the thing about this novel.  It’s so emotional that it made me cry. Boyd Hilton, reviewer


A great story.  It is incredibly sad but it’s incredibly enjoyable, like watching a horror film; you enjoy being frightened. Lemn Sissay, poet, writer & critic

It reminded me of Iain Banks.  If you enjoyed The Crow Road, I think you’ll get lots out of this book. Joel Morris, reviewer

The way it worked with the two narratives colliding felt like watching a slow motion film where there’s a car parked on the railway tracks and there’s a locomotive coming towards it – and you can’t look away. Boyd Hilton, reviewer

I love it.  It’s a book that’s very fast and really rewarding as a reader.  There’s a wrenching end to the first chapter that switches the mood and absolutely hooked me for the rest of the book. David Vann, author of Legend of a Suicide

I hope to see you all again in the near future.  In the meantime, I’d better get back to novel number two . . . !