My book review of 'A New Suffolk Garland' by Elizabeth Burke

by Elizabeth Burke
A New Suffolk Garland
by Elizabeth Burke

More than 50 years ago, the Queen progressed through the county of Suffolk and the occasion was marked by an anthology of writing compiled by John Hadfield. It was called 'Suffolk Garland'.

What better way to mark the occasion of the Platinum Jubilee than producing a modern collection of words and images celebrating the spirit of the county.

'A New Suffolk Garland' was commissioned by the team behind the Festival of Suffolk. They asked Mary and John James from Aldeburgh Bookshop to oversee the project and they enlisted the help of former publishing director Dan Franklin and radio producer, Elizabeth Burke, for the task.

It's a true modern anthology. In addition to excerpts from novels, poems and memoirs, there are screengrabs, song lyrics, film scripts and transcripts of oral histories. There are also beautiful illustrations from artists past and present, from Gainsborough and Munnings to John Nash, Maggi Hambling and Charlie Mackesy.

There are many familiar names here - with examples from the classic works of Charles Dickens, MR James and WG Sebald - but also recent popular novelists such as Rose Tremain, Esther Freud and Ruth Rendell. 

And there are contributions too from Ed Sheeran, Richard Curtis, David Sheepshanks, Lowestoft fisherman, refugees living in Ipswich and images of the ships waiting to dock at Felixstowe.

It's an extraordinary collection which is fascinating, entertaining, poignant and thought-provoking and though it's a book undoubtedly to dip into, time and again, each contribution leads beautifully to the next so it's a challenge to stop reading. Loved it!

Date of this review: May 2022
Book publication date: 3rd May 2022