The Image of Laura is partially based on the true story of a young English girl who went to Berlin in the early 1930s. Travelling with her was her most prized possession: a hand-carved bureau made by the master craftsman, Edward Barnsley. Forced to flee from Berlin when the Nazis came to power, she had to leave the bureau behind. After the war friends visiting her old apartment found almost all her possessions intact: only the bureau wasn’t there.
When I, too, went to Berlin and saw the building in which she had lived – one of only two houses in that street which had survived the Allied bombing – The Image of Laura took shape in my mind. Like Laura Conway in my story, the real owner of the bureau had gone to Berlin to study photography. The development of the 35 mm Leica camera in 1925 and the illustrated news format pioneered by Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung had led on to the Golden Age of photojournalism and Berlin was the place for photographic students, as well as fertile ground for artists, intellectuals and innovators from many fields.
Unlike Laura, the real owner of the bureau did not go on to become a world-famous photographer – nor did she have secrets to hide from her family back in England. But Laura Conway does. Laura has been as careful of her own image as she is of her unique and diverse shots. But as her 75th birthday is celebrated in London with a retrospective exhibition of her achievements it is plain to at least one member of her family that Laura’s image isn’t quite what she wants it to be.
Joy Martin was born in Limerick. A former journalist, she is the author of eight novels. Her agents are Coombs Moylett Maclean, 120 New Kings Road, Fulham, London SW6 4LZ.
Get your copy of Joy Martin’s The Image of Laura here!