Deborah Moggach and Gill Hornby
Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones and Christian Plowman
Liz Lochead: 30 Years Of Scottish Culture
VERY few writers are innately funny. One such is Deborah Moggach, who in person or on paper can't help but make her readers - and herself - laugh.
The latest of her many books is Heartbreak Hotel which, when it reaches the small screen, as it inevitably will, will not need to look far for a soundtrack.
It concerns a character called Buffy (first seen in her novel, The Ex-Wives) who opens a hotel in Wales whose usp is "courses for divorces".
The inspiration behind it, said Moggach, a blonde sixtysomething, came when she realised that when couples split up they leave one another short of skills.
The courses on offer at the eponymous hotel include how to bake a lemon sponge, car maintenance and personal finance. Buffy, a steady tippler, has decided never to remarry, having been burned once too often. Instead, he muses, "I'll just find a woman and give her a house."
Gill Hornby, who is married to thriller writer Robert Harris and is Nick Hornby's sister, is the author of The Hives, her debut novel.
With "mummy porn" having apparently had its day, it is touted as an example of a new genre, in which women of a certain age worry less about sex than they do about being "accepted". Can that be true?
Set around the school year, each of its chapters opens with the "drop-off" and ends with the "pick-up". In between, the affluent mummies jostle for position in the hive, at the top of which, of course, is the queen bee.
Such tension as there is in this scenario comes from a campaign to raise funds for a new library. There was a bidding war for The Hive among publishers who work in mysterious ways, their wonders to perform.
Christian Plowman was an undercover cop; Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones has written a book called In Spies We Trust. Thus the connection between the two of them seemed obvious to all but the person chairing.
This was one of those festival events at which only those who do not have access to Channel 4 could have learned anything new.
30 years of Scottish culture was ostensibly the subject to be examined by Liz Lochhead and Catherine Lockerbie, erstwhile director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, this year being the 30th anniversary.
Actually, it was nothing of the sort. Instead, one was witness to a love-in, during which the participants threw compliments at each other as if Jane Austen had bumped by chance into George Eliot.