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'It is quite an eccentric corner of the UK' - Margaret Atwood reveals why she loves Norwich

PUBLISHED: 16:39 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:44 11 September 2019

Margaret Atwood, during a press conference, at the British Library in central London, on the global publication day of her new book: The Testaments, a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale. Picture Ian West/PA Wire.

Margaret Atwood, during a press conference, at the British Library in central London, on the global publication day of her new book: The Testaments, a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale. Picture Ian West/PA Wire.

The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood has revealed she loves Norfolk and Norwich and lives in the area when she is in the UK.

Margaret Atwood, during a press conference, at the British Library in central London, on the global publication day of her new book: The Testaments, a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale. Picture  Ian West/PA Wire.Margaret Atwood, during a press conference, at the British Library in central London, on the global publication day of her new book: The Testaments, a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale. Picture Ian West/PA Wire.

The 79-year-old was talking about her new book The Testaments, the follow-up to The Handmaid's Tale, on BBC Radio 5 live when she explained her links to the county and her love for The Book Hive in Norwich.

The owner of the London Street shop said it means "a huge amount" for the author to praise his store and revealed how The Handmaid's Tale was started in Norfolk.

Speaking to Emma Barnett, Mrs Atwood said: "It is quite an eccentric corner of the UK. Apparently they have a church for every week of the year and a pub for every day of the year. And they have the smallest number of people who identify as traditional religious people but the largest number of people who self identify as Jedi Knight."

"They also have a very good book shop called The Book Hive, and they do lots of interesting events, and they always have books that you might wish to read so I'm giving them a plug."

Margaret Atwood praised The Book Hive in Norwich.  Picture: ANTONY KELLYMargaret Atwood praised The Book Hive in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Henry Layte, who owns The Book Hive in London Street, said Mrs Atwood was a regular visitor to the shop and her kind words mean "a huge amount".

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"She just started popping into the shop when she was in Norwich and we became friends," he said. "Then a few years ago we opened up the top floor into areas for writers to work in and she was the first person to rent it.

"It is where she finished her novel The Heart Goes Last. She wrote in the back thank you to us and she didn't say why so we get calls from all over the place asking why is Margaret Atwood thanking you in that book.

"It means a huge amount but the fact is it is quite genuine. She comes into the shop really and she buys books."

Mr Layte also explained how The Handmaid's Tale was started when Mrs Atwood and her husband were living in north Norfolk.

"When she was up there she was working on a novel and it was the only time she has written a novel she didn't finish.

"She scrapped it and she started a new novel and that novel became The Handmaid's Tale."

But he admitted that he hasn't had a chance to read The Testaments as it is flying off the shelves of his city store.

"I'm not able to hold onto any of them but it is definitely on my pile", he said.

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