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Barnett's Literary Lounge is an opportunity to meet leading authors and to hear them discuss their work in an intimate but relaxed setting over a glass of wine and refreshments.


Attendance is by ticket only - available in advance from the bookshop.

Thursday 2nd February, 2023

7.00pm (doors open at 6.30pm)
Commemoration Hall, High Street, Wadhurst

The Octopus Man tells the story of Tom, once an outstanding law student, now living in East Sussex and lost in the machinery of the British mental health system. Opening with a swirling, compulsive diatribe, Tom comes quickly to confirm what we readers suspect: that he is not entirely alone. He hears the voice of Malamock, the Octopus God - part-comforter, part-autarch, part-guide. 

After Tom is coerced into a drugs trial, his loving sister and the medical profession celebrate the loss of this voice. However, Tom's own sense of relief soon turns to despair. Once he was Jacob, wrestling with the angel. Now he is just Tom, struggling on benefits. 


Tom decides to get his voice back...

'The Octopus Man', set in the local area, is now being turned into a television series by Working Title Productions, starring Johnny Flynn.

With his whole family based in and around Groombridge, Jasper Gibson has written professionally for TV, magazines and online for over twenty-five years. Jasper is the author of one previous novel, 'A Bright Moon For Fools'. 

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Programme for 2023 - thus far...

Jasper Gibson: Thursday 2nd February 

Local author, Jasper Gibson, gives a wonderfully eloquent disposition on the state of the British mental health system from the perspective of his character, Tom, who - alone - can hear the voice of Malamock, the Octopus God.

Halik Kochanski: Tuesday 21st March, "Upstairs at Barnett's"

In a master-work, Halik Kochanski presents a sweeping history of occupation and resistance in war-torn Europe - from partisan to organised insurrection.  

Annabel Abbs: Thursday 27th April

Award-winning author, Annabel Abbs, discusses her novel of food and female freedom and friendship - centred on the character of Eliza Acton, who revolutionised cooking and cookbooks around the world

Greg Mosse: TBC

Greg Mosse's The Coming Darkness is a classic thriller of eco-terrorism set in the context of global warming and the aftermath of the pandemic.  

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Event Details - General Information

Literary Lounge events are typically held in the Commemoration Hall, High Street, Wadhurst. We also hold smaller events in our newly refurbished event room "Upstairs at Barnett's".


Typically, doors open at 6.30pm and the speaker presents from 7.00pm, with time for questions before wrapping up around 8.00pm.

Tickets go on sale at Barnett’s at the usual price of £12 per head (including a glass of wine or soft drink and nibbles) a few weeks before the event. We stock the speaker's book in the shop and offer a “package” price, at a small discount, for a ticket and a copy of the book.


Subscribe to our newsletter for news of when the event is launched and tickets are available. Or drop in to see us or email (, telephone (01892 783566) or contact us via the website (click here) if you would like to learn more. 

Literary Lounge events gallery

Photographs from our most recent Literary Lounge events

  • Torie True: Chilli & Mint and demonstration (17 Nov 2022)

  • Susan Furber: The Essence of an Hour (13 Oct 2022)

  • Amanda Craig: The Golden Rule (6 Sept 2022)

  • Alan Judd: A Fine Madness (21 Apr 2022)

  • Frances Quinn: The Smallest Man (24 Feb 2022)

  • Guinevere Glasfurd: The Year Without Summer (4 Nov 2021)

  • Ruth Thomas: The Snow and the Works on the Northern Line (22 June 2021)


Torie True
Chilli & Mint

17 November 2022

Another new venture for Barnett's, with our first cookbook demonstration. After a taster of her dhokla and chai, Torie True nonchalantly chatted and answered questions while preparing recipes from her wonderful Indian cookbook, Chilli & Mint. The audience then got to taste the Sri Lankan dal, Keralan cabbage thoran and Bengali tomato chutney she had rustled up - and the consensu was that all were truly delicious!

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Susan Furber
The Essence of an Hour

13 October 2022

We were excited to launch our newly refurbished event space - "Upstairs at Barnett's" - with a very interesting and wide-ranging conversation with Susan Furber, talking through some of the themes of her first novel, The Essence of an Hour in an open and interactive discussion with the audience. Susan also talked about the creative process and the way that she is hoping to take her characters forward in her next novel, to be published in 2023.

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Amanda Craig
The Golden Rule

6 September 2022

It is always a treat to have Amanda Craig give us her insights and opinions and this occasion was no different. Amanda entertained the audience with readings from her highly successful 2021 novel, The Golden Rule and, in conversation with Sue Gaisford, lifted the veil on the challenges (and joys) of the novel-writing process. A few teasers, too, about her next novel - The Three Graces - due out in 2023.

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Alan Judd
A Fine Madness

21 April 2022

Award-winning author and acclaimed expert, Alan Judd, gave a rapt audience a fascinating insight into the life and times of Christopher Marlowe and the intrigue and uncertainty about his role as a spy and his murder, in the context of Alan's most recent novel, A Fine Madness. He also gave a glimpse of the process for creating such a well-researched and imaginative historical novel. 

Alan's next spy novel (set in the modern era) will be released in July 2022.

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Frances Quinn
The Smallest Man

24 February 2022

Frances Quinn gave an extremely entertaining and engaging presentation of her debut historical novel, The Smallest Man. As well as addressing the challenges of an imagined story in a strictly historical setting, Frances also discussed the issues around writing about a person with dwarfism - and the persistence, chance and satisfaction of becoming a published author. We very much look forward to her second novel later in 2022.


Guinevere Glasfurd
The Year Without Summer

4 November 2021

We were thrilled to welcome Guinevere Glasfurd back to Barnett's to discuss her latest novel, in discussion with Sue Gaisford. With a few pertinent slides, Guin discussed the historical and cultural context for her story and brought out the intricacies of using creative license to give her historical characters agency in developing their inter-related narratives.

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Ruth Thomas 
The Snow and the Works on the Northern Line

22 June 2021

In our first Literary Lounge since lockdowns, Ruth Thomas gave a very engaging reading of extracts from her latest novel and provided wonderful (and surprising) insights into the realities of the novel-writing process. Having enjoyed the sometimes dark humour of The Snow..., we all look forward to wherever Ruth takes her characters next.​


Peter Fiennes 
Footnotes: A Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers

3 December 2019

Peter rounded off a successful year of Barnett's Literary Lounges with an absorbing synopsis of his latest book, Footnotes, in which he follows twelve writers around Britain, delving into literature and landscape. Peter's enthusiasm for his subjects, from the twelfth century Gerald of Wales, to Beryl Bainbridge, is reflected in his engaging prose style - this is a wonderful book that informs and entertains in equal part.


Alan Judd
Accidental Agent

15 October 2019

We thoroughly enjoyed welcoming Alan Judd to Barnett's again for an lively evening of  discussion based around his gripping and topical new spy thriller Accidental Agent.

Brexit looms and Charles Thoroughgood, Chief of MI6, is forbidden for political reasons from spying on the EU. But what happens when an EU official reports the EU's negotiating bottom lines?

Added into the mix is Charles' possible family connection with a terrorist...


Anne Youngson on her successful first novel 

Meet Me at the Museum

10 September 2019

Yet another sold-out Literary Lounge! We were delighted to welcome Anne Youngson for a discussion of Meet Me at the Museum, a moving and thoughtful meditation on life, encouraging us to look to the future rather than the past. 

Anne's account of how she came to writing as a second career via an MA and PhD will no doubt have fired the literary ambitions of some audience members!

We're looking forward to Anne's next novel set on a narrow boat and hoping that the option to film Meet Me at the Museum is exercised soon!

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Peter Fiennes explores our relationship with woods in Oak, Ash and Thorn

18th June 2019

In conjunction with Wadhurst Culture's 'When the Oak Spoke', Peter Fiennes gave an inspiring talk to a capacity crowd based on his book, 'Oak, Ash and Thorn', a Guardian Best Nature Book of the Year.


Peter explored our long relationship with trees and woods and the sad and violent story of how so many have been lost. 


Miranda Seymour talks about
In Byron's Wake

5th March 2019

Miranda treated us to a lively and informative introduction to her latest book, In Byron's Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lady Byron and Ada Lovelace. This was a fascinating glimpse into the unconventional lives of Lady Byron, great social reformer and Ada, pioneer of computer science, accompanied by entertaining insights on Byron himself. Miranda left us with the tantalising possibility of a new book to be based on Ada's own writings. Watch this space! 


Robert Winder talks about
The Last Wolf

17th January 2019

A hugely entertaining and informative discussion with journalist and author, Robert Winder, whose latest book, The Last Wolf, asks the questions "What sort of place is England? And who are the English?". Robert's answers lie not in royal pageantry or politics but in the landscape and history.


Davina Langdale introduces
The Brittle Star

25 September 2018

Davina entertained us with the story of how an English writer came to write an utterly convincing novel set in the American West, drawing on her deep interest and extensive research. The Brittle Star, Davina's first novel, has been described as "part High Noon, part The Good the Bad and the Ugly - crying out to be made into one of the great Western movies"


Amanda Craig talks about 
The Lie of the Land

20 March 2018

In conversation with Sue Gaisford, Amanda Craig described the themes and inspiration for her witty yet thought-provoking tale of a "modern couple" facing the pressures of modern life. Not for nothing was The Lie of the Land chosen as Book of the Year by ALL the quality broadsheets!

If you liked The Lie of the Land, you should also read her Hearts and Minds


Alan Judd presents
Deep Blue

6 February 2018

Drawing on his experience as a soldier and a diplomat, Alan gave an interesting talk to present his latest novel, Deep Blue, and the character developments that the novel explores. Deep Blue  is a spy thriller set in the UK, which moves between the present day and Cold War intrigue, from an author likened to Le Carre, Graham Greene and Charles Cumming. 

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Guinevere Glasfurd's debut 
The Words in my Hand

19 September 2017

Guinevere Glasfurd introduced her debut novel - nominated for the Costa First Novel Award 2016. The Words in My Hand, set in 17th Holland, tells the little-know story of an affair between the celebrated philosopher Rene Descartes and a lowly Dutch maid.


Francis Spufford discusses
Golden Hill

13 June 2017

Renowned non-fiction author. Francis Spufford gave a highly engaging presentation of the enjoyment he encountered in writing his first fiction work, Golden Hill, set in the Manhattan of the mid-18th century, which won the Costa First Novel award in 2016. 

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