The Glassmaker UK HB cover  The Glassmaker US HB cover      

Big news at last that I know many have been waiting for: my new novel The Glassmaker will be published this year! It has been a long haul to reach this point, delayed partly by the pandemic and partly because it's a longer book spanning 500 years, and I play around with time in a way that took a while to get right. It is about Orsola Rosso, a girl from a glassmaking family on Murano, an island off Venice., and her long journey to becoming a glassmaker. Over centuries she meets real people: beadmaker Maria Barovier, Casanova, Josephine Bonaparte... Yes, that's right, centuries. She is 9 when the story begins in 1486, and in her late 60s in 2022. How? Time alla Veneziana. To figure that out, you'll have to read it!

The Glassmaker is published at different times this year:

June: France and USA
September: UK and Italy and Germany
October: Spain

Should you want to preorder, you can do so here:

USA
UK 

Above are the two beautiful covers designed so far. Which is the USA, which UK?

Vermeer opening

 

In February 1998 I began researching the novel Girl with a Pearl Earring. Little did I know that 25 years later I would still be talking about that painting and that painter. Indeed, I seem to have become something of a Vermeer ambassador.

This became apparent last week when I visited the new Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam during Press Day. I was reviewing it for BBC Radio and for The Art Newspaper, but I ended up getting interviewed about All Things Vermeer: his enduring qualities, his appeal, and how much my novel played a part in boosting interest in him.That last question was hard to answer without sounding either immodest or too modest!

I was thrilled to be there and feel for myself what it's like to be among 28 of Vermeer's 37 known works. The curators have done a wonderful job presenting them in a very Vermeer manner, on soberly painted walls with plenty of space around each. The paintings positively glow from the walls, and because there are so few, it's easy to spend a lot of time with each, and to walk back and forth between them, comparing and contrasting. They retain their mysterious power, and it is in fact enhanced by being amongst their own. I was entranced, moved beyond tears. Without being hyperbolic, it was up there as one of the top art experiences of my life. I urge you to go if you can - though as I write it is already 3/4 sold out. Here at least is a little taste of the show made by the Museum and narrated by Stephen Fry:

Stephen Fry on Rijksmuseum Vermeer show

 And here are some photos:

 Vermeer 1

Vermeer 2

Vermeer 3

Vermeer 4

 

Finally, a photo Associated Press photographer Peter Dejong couldn't resist taking of me (watermarked so it can't be used beyond here):

TC by AP

© AP Photo/Peter Dejong

I'm particularly pleased that my earrings match her scarf!

It's officially summer in the northern hemisphere, but I'm looking back on an incredible spring: specifically 3rd April 2022, and the premiere of Girl with a Pearl Earring: The Opera at Zurich Opera House. That's right, an opera!

That novel about a Dutch painting is having a long and blessed life. When I wrote it back in 1998, I could imagine it as a film, a radio dramatization, even a play. But never did I expect it to become an opera.

The music is by Swiss composer Stefan Wirth, the libretto by Philip Littell. It's Stefan who got the ball rolling several years ago: when Zurich Opera House suggested he write them a new opera and asked what subject he wanted to do, he chose my novel! I owe him a great debt for his passion and determination.

It is a very modern opera, with music that is more textural than melodic. The orchestra is full of percussion making strange noises. The staging is minimalist, with a big lightbox revolving around. There's so little on stage that when you see a bucket, or a flower, or a chair, it becomes important.

There are 8 singers, all superb. Lauren Snouffer sings Griet, and what a part - she's on stage the whole time. And the eminent Thomas Hampson is Vermeer.

I was lucky enough to attend rehearsals early on, and director Ted Huffman was incredibly generous not only in allowing me into the room, but letting me speak and asking me questions! I loved watching the singers explore their parts and build the opera from the ground up.

And then, the premiere: a full house, friends and family in the audience, a buzz in the air. 

Vermeer and Griet in dress

Vermeer Catharina Griet

Vermeer Children

kim stage bow 3 edit

I got to take a stage bow with composer Stefan Wirth!

The response to the opera has been remarkable, with both audience and critics loving it. Yes, it's minimalist stage, yes, the music is different and challenging. But the story is clear and recognisable, with characters you care about. I am thrilled. For a brief taste of what the opera looks and sounds like, here's a trailer:

The opera performances are over for now, but there are hopes that it will travel in the next few years to other opera houses. I will keep you posted!

 

Today is the 25th anniversary of the publication of my first novel, The Virgin Blue. Amazing to think so much time has passed! I've written 9 more books since and had many literary adventures all over the place. To celebrate this milestone, I've made a rough-and-ready video of a few highlights (with the help of an Elvis Costello soundtrack - I have made a donation to Help Musicians UK in thanks). Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

After 18 months of remaining in the UK, last month I finally managed to go to Venice, where my next novel takes place. It has been incredibly frustrating writing a story set in the most beautiful city in the world and not being able to go there! So I was thrilled - and sometimes overwhelmed - to have so much to see and do and absorb. I felt like a well that had run dry and was now refilling.

Speaking of wells, there is usually one in every courtyard in Venice. Here is a gorgeous one on Murano, the glass island just off Venice, where much of the book takes place, as it's about a family of glassmakers:

murano well

 You may know that I try to do the things my characters do so that I can describe it with more authenticity. So while in Venice, I made glass beads:

 TC bead making

 And I tried rowing a shrimp-tailed batela - kind of like a gondola but not as hard (it was still hard)!

 TC rowing

 Let me show you the real deal:

Venice gondola

It is almost impossible to take a bad picture in Venice. I don't know about WRITING about Venice, though. So many have gone before me, and avoiding clichés is hard...