> Skip to content

Article  •  2 April 2020


The Night of All Souls launch speech from Harriet Allan

As the launch for The Night of All Souls by Philippa Swan could not go ahead as planned our Fiction Publisher, Harriet Allan, has shared the speech she would have given. 

Although April is rather a challenging month for its release, I’m very proud to be publishing this novel. 

It is a Tardis of a book, for within its covers are various intriguing stories, a modern novella with an unusual love-hate triangle, a visit to the afterlife, biographical details of Edith Wharton, including the revelation of a secret love affair and indeed walk-on parts for Edith and a number of her circle, a tour through the gardens Edith wrote about and visited in Italy and created in America and France, plus snippets from Wharton’s own novels, poetry and memoir, and a whole lot more besides – all of which is integrated into a wonderfully upbeat and enthralling novel.

Philippa is indeed a literary Dr Who, taking us through time and space. We watch the young Edith in a rowing boat, waiting for a marriage proposal that never comes, we visit the Mount, the mansion she went on to build in Massachusetts, we drive with her, Henry James and a dashing rogue through the snowy countryside, we travel to modern-day Hyères in the south of France, and we are flies on the wall of a seedy hotel room in London.

When I used to picture Edith Wharton, I’d think of an amalgam of Gillian Anderson playing Lily Bart in the film of The House of Mirth, the wonderfully pompous characters that people Wharton’s novels and often deliver the acerbic and hilarious one-liners that would give Jane Austen a run for her money, and the photographs of Wharton that generally capture very grand settings and clothes but so often a rather wistful expression that has always made me wonder what the real woman was like. Thanks to The Night of All Souls, I now reckon I know her rather well. She’s come alive again in this novel and is someone I’m very reluctant to say goodbye to.

In fact, everyone who worked on this novel expressed reluctance at having to pass it on – we all wanted to stay in these multiple worlds, getting to know this fascinating woman. You can sample a chapter here and look out for the Penguin Facebook page for Philippa’s launch speech and her daughter reading an extract.

You can access a copy through numerous online channels outlined here.

Marsden Books in Karori was going to launch The Night of All Souls, so a big shout-out to them. As soon as bookshops open again, you can of course also purchase physical copies, and I urge you to do so as it is well worth making the acquaintance of Edith Wharton.


Harriet Allan, Fiction Publisher

The Night of All Souls Philippa Swan

Edith Wharton returns: spirited, brilliant, alive.

Buy now
Buy now

More features

See all
The Unsolved Mysteries that Inspired House of Hollow

Author Krystal Sutherland shares her favourite stories.

Michelle Obama: note to self

The First Lady of the United States pens a letter to her younger self.

Locked Down: Real Reader Reviews

We wanted to know what young Kiwi readers thought about Jesse O's book Locked Down (hint: they loved it!). Read on to see their reviews.

Locked Down: A note from the author

When Jesse O wrote Locked Down (then titled Staying Home) back in 2011, she never imagined that almost a decade later, the events of her novel would prove spookily accurate . . .

The road trip that inspired Showtym Adventures 8!

Syd, the Muster Pony tells the story of the Wilson sisters' most epic adventure yet, and it's inspired by a real-life road trip Kelly and her sisters took in 2001! (warning: this article might induce a desperate longing to go adventuring around the country, read on at your own risk)

Suzi McAlpine on the inspiration behind Beyond Burnout

Find out the inspiration behind Beyond Burnout, as well as what you'll learn from reading it!

YA fiction we can't wait to read in 2021!

From contemporary rom-coms, to literary debuts, to the creepiest modern gothic fairytale you could imagine (seriously . . . it is AWESOME!), we've got some stellar YA lined up for you this year. Read on for recommendations for your TBR pile!

This will be hard

In How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates outlines just some of the hurdles between humanity and a net-zero carbon world.

Beyond Hairy Maclary

Hairy Maclary and his friends are known and loved all over the world. But how familiar are you with Dame Lynley Dodd's other creations? There are plenty to discover, and just like Hairy Maclary, they all feature Lynely's uniquely exuberant artwork and gorgeously readable rhymes! Here are some suggestions to get you started.

A sneak peek at our 2021 kids books!

After an exhausting and unusual 2020, we’ve got plenty of reasons to be grateful for a new year, not least because of the stellar line up of children’s books we have coming your way over the next few months!Read on for a sneak peek at some of the best new children’s books we’re bringing to you in 2021.

Beautiful NZ Picture Books from 2020

Sometimes a story is best told alongside a beautiful picture, Here's a small selection of some of our favourite 2020 picture books from local creators. 

Sophie Gray's top tips for a cracker Christmas

If you’re planning to head to the shops for a last-minute Christmas here's what destitute gourmet wants you to think about! 

Looking for more articles?

See all articles