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Daisy Chain Shortlisted for the Paul Torday Memorial Prize!

Hello, dear Reader! We're delighted to announce that Daisy Chain by Justine Gilbert has been shortlisted for the prestigious Paul Torday Memorial Prize!

(ps. This is a version of the Newsletter sent to our mailing list.)


We're absolutely thrilled to announce that Daisy Chain by Justine Gilbert has been shortlisted for the Paul Torday Memorial Prize 2024

The Paul Torday Memorial Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60. The prize includes a set of the collected works of British writer Paul Torday, who published his first novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the age of 60. The award is judged by the Society of Authors, and reflects the excellence currently present in our literary landscape.

Judge Gaby Koppel said: "I found the entries as a whole bursting with creative energy, wisdom and often humour. Among them I found bold stylistic innovation, the reflection of different cultures and sensitivities and familiar events seen from fresh perspectives. Some of the authors had undertaken meticulous research in order to explore particular moments in time and place. All of them challenge the cliches about ageing by showing that mature minds can master the art of writing fiction, but also go beyond that, entering into fresh territory to produce original work, crackling with imagination and ideas."

We're particularly pleased to note that once again, Claret Press finds itself in the company of the big beasts of publishing. Last year's winner was the international million-copy bestseller Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Penguin Random House), and while we haven't reached those numbers quite yet, we're delighted to see Justine Gilbert receive the recognition she deserves. 

Our many congratulations to Justine Gilbert, who is every bit deserving of the praise "a master storyteller" (The Historical Fiction Company). We'll be keeping our fingers crossed for the announcement of the winner on June 20th. 

You can find a full set of links, including links to an extract and Amazon, at the bottom of this post. Meanwhile, for more on Daisy Chain, see the next section for the publisher's musings.

Keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world. Toni Morrison

More than most men, Franklin Roosevelt was a complicated mix, confusingly so as we try to unpick the facets of his character. While we know complexity to be true, how best to capture that in a story where simplicity is rewarded?

He was by all accounts extraordinarily charismatic, but used that to seduce women, publicly humiliating his wife, Eleanor. Simultaneously, he promoted women to positions of power and influence never seen before anywhere in the world. Thanks to him, women held more power then than they have ever since, up to and including now. It was a blip in the history of women’s political status.

And here’s another confusing and uncomfortable reality. While women have fought tooth and nail for centuries to achieve parity with men, and while that fight is (unbelievably) still on-going, every so often women achieve because of men. Not despite men but because sometimes some men look past the biology and appoint on the basis of ability. And that changes everything.

Roosevelt didn’t just make women power and influential — although goodness knows that would have been enough — he also made unconventional women acceptable. His cousin Polly would have scandalised society for her brazen embracement of singledom. But she was also part of Roosevelt’s inner circle, which certainly helped to usher in a new way for women to live.

And of course, there was FDR’s cousin, Daisy, who lived in the White House and was also his lover (although it’s likely she shared him). She attended state functions and met foreign dignitaries. Plain, middle-aged and pragmatic, she was frequently mistaken as his carer — which she absolutely was. But such is the human soul that she was so much more than that: his unacknowledged but not-so-secret real partner.

Daisy Chain has just been shortlisted for a major literary award, the Paul Torday Memorial Prize. And it’s clear why. Daisy Chain tells the story of the rich interior life of Daisy, with its dreams and fears, frustrations and joys, and how the women who FDR promoted and celebrated and endorsed strengthened his own leadership. It’s a love story but one grounded in the reality, history and the confusing contradictions of humanity.

Katie Isbester, Publisher at Claret Press


Daisy Chain by Justine Gilbert is the award-winning fictional memoir of the real-life mistress and cousin of President FDR, as written by a relative who knew her, relating the hardships and achievements of the women who surrounded America’s only disabled president.

An extract can be read on our website here.

Daisy Chain is available in paperback and ebook, and can be ordered via:

And all other good bookstores and major retailers in the UK/EU.


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