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Two Outstanding Authors, Christmas cocktails reception and canapes followed by two-course lunch

Portrait photograph of author Mary Contini

Dear Olivia
by Mary Contini
An Italian Journey of Love and Courage

In the follow-up to her hugely successful book, Dear Francesca, Mary Contini writes to her youngest daughter, Olivia, and reveals the untold story of her family's struggle to survive in a foreign country. Contini brings the colourful and fascinating stories of the first Italian Scots vividly to life in this charming and moving story.

She relays the fascinating story of Olivia’s great-grandparents, humble shepherds from the south of Italy, who emigrated to Edinburgh in the 1900s and became the first Italian Scots. Complied from first-hand oral history and extensive research, Mary Contini really takes the reader into the heart of the Contini and Crolla families.

She explains through letters, stories and anecdotes what kind of life they left behind, what forced them to leave, why they chose Edinburgh and what experiences Scotland held for them and their families. She tells of wartime experiences, how the women coped when the men were rounded up and taken away and how, above all, they transformed Britain’s food culture.

Mary Contini is a director of the famous Italian delicatessen and wine merchant, Valvona & Crolla. She has written extensively for The Scotsman, appeared regularly on TV and Radio and has co-presented Scotland’s Larder on STV. Her Children’s cookery book, Easy Peasy, co-authored with Pru Irvine, is now in its eighth year.

Praise for Dear Francesca

'A happy blend of epistle, storytelling, memoir.'
The Times

'Don't miss it: there won't be a better cookbook published this decade.'
Daily Mail

Portrait photograph of author Victoria Hislop

The Island
by Victoria Hislop
Overall winner of Richard & Judy’s Summer Read 2006

On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alex Fielding longs to find out about her mother’s past but all Sofia will admit to is growing up in a small Cretan village. Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone’s throw from the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga, a former leper colony. There she discovers the tale of her family, destroyed by tragedy, war and passion. She learns how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip. The Island is home to characters whose lives are at once familiar and exotic, and whose relationships, loves, tragedies and secrets are totally absorbing.

The setting for Victoria’s debut novel reflects her passion for a country she has visited over 25 times in the past two decades. Victoria read English at Oxford, where she met her husband, Ian Hislop, and is now a freelance journalist specialising in travel. She has been to every continent and has written on everything from white-water rafting on the Colorado River to buying shoes in Florence.

'Meticulous research into Cretan culture... packed with family sagas, doomed love affairs, devastating secrets... She also forces us to reflect on illness, both the nasty, narrow-mindedness of the healthy and the spirit of survival in the so-called "unclean". Her message seems as relevant today as it would have been a century ago.'

Gliterary Lunches sponsors. Borders books, Scotland on Sunday newspaper and the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society