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Lovely Lennoxlove

Pauline McLean | 17:36 UK time, Sunday, 21 November 2010

It may be the newest book festival on the circuit but Lennoxlove is rapidly catching up.

The second Lennoxlove Book Festival - held in the East lothian house and grounds of the same name - is already four times the size of the first one.

Authors appearing at the weekend included Ian Rankin, Iain Banks, Alastair Campbell and Nicholas Parson. There's a lovely intimacy about the event, which larger and more established events may have lost.

It's hard not to bump into one another - particularly when many of the authors stay in the big house overnight (one of the perks of this book festival, it seems).

Best selling children's author Julia Donaldson has pressganged James Naughtie into appearing in her show (he's the narrator of Zog the Dragon).

She knows his wife - fellow children's writer Eleanor Updale - whose event clashes with her own, so the deal is quickly made.

Despite the torrential rain, the grounds and house are buzzing. Fire-eaters and clowns entertain those queuing for books to sign.

The chapel is used for the more artistic events, the great hall for the heavyweights, and the marquee in the grounds still holds a not inconsiderable 450-capacity crowd.

The festival is an offshoot of the Borders Book festival - both have Alastair Moffat as their director - and suggest that the Scottish appetite for books and book festivals shows no signs of easing off.

Conn Iggulden, author of the Dangerous Book for Boys, says writers enjoy them because they offer a fun way of meeting their book buying public.

For the public, it's a cheap and cheerful thing to do on a rainy weekend in November.

At less than a tenner for a ticket, even with a book thrown in, it's still good value for a day out.

It seems we also like a good argument, a chance to test our knowledge, and that of our favourite writers.

They may seem like a gentle introduction to a mild mannered public, but don't underestimate the average book festival going audience.

The Scottish weather hasn't exactly been welcoming to the Lennoxlove Book Festival, but fortunately readers have.

Let's hope this festival is here to stay - and doesn't lose its charming intimacy too soon.


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