Retreating into imagined worlds of the past
This article is from 2010.
Amy Sackville’s debut novel, The Still Point, is an Arctic love story which has already drawn comparisons with Virginia Woolf. Set in modern England, Julia is the great-grand-niece of an explorer whose story fascinates her and she often dreams about the Arctic. To her, the idea of an edgeless, limitless space is very calming. There at the North Pole, she could enjoy the Still Point at the top of the world, while the globe spins under her. To Julia’s husband Simon though, the Arctic is a frustrating, unmapped and unknown place, which is hard for his detail-loving, precision-craving head to get around.
Switching between dazzling landscapes of the frozen north, and a languid, sticky-hot English summer, 28-year-old Sackville creates some soaring prose, full of elegance and confidence. Sackville researched by trawling through Arctic explorers’ diaries, but also added in details from her own ski trips. ‘I go to the French Alps every year and like seeing how snow and light work together. Watching the shadows move in a complete white-out landscape; you start noticing reflections and shades of colour in the white.’
Although she writes as though dressed in an empire line dress in regency England, Sackville – who graduated from Goldsmith’s Creative Writing MA last year – admits the novel was written mostly sitting in a vest, sweltering through a London summer. ‘I did quite enjoy writing these faintly Jane Austen-esque social scenes,’ she laughs. ‘I suppose there’s a bit of me in Julia; I’m happy to escape into the past and retreat into these imagined worlds.’
23 Aug (with Kirsten McKenzie), 6pm, £7 (£5).