It was Halloween when we gathered at Daunt Books for the launch of Maureen Freely’s Sailing Through Byzantium, almost a year to the day from the email Maureen sent me asking if I might be interested in reading her manuscript.

The venue was perfect – a beautiful book shop in Marylebone housing a vast range of books in linked rooms with wooden panelling and a minstrels’ gallery. Maureen’s children, sister and close family, her friends old and new, novelists and playwrights, book editors and journalists came in their masses to wish the book safely on its way out into the world. Linen Press was represented by Lynn Michell, author Hema Macherla and interns Pamela Carralero and Ruchi Bagga.

Maureen spoke movingly about the death of her beloved husband Frank which came out of the blue as we started editing the novel. The death of my father followed within days. And so Maureen and I began not just a literary and intellectual journey but an emotional one as we moved, chapter by chapter, along the Bosphorus with the dark ships carrying missiles passing in the night. For me, it was a gracious, fascinating and rewarding collaboration. I loved every minute of it. Maureen was simply wonderful to work with.

At the launch, Cara Forbes Stenning crept between the crowds with her camera, capturing the warm atmosphere and the tangible friendship and good will. See the photos here.