A POPULAR author is bringing an Icelandic tradition of reading and knitting to Kendal.

Sarah Thomas will be reading her book The Raven's Nest, set in the breathtaking landscapes of Iceland's Westfjords at Waterstones on Friday.

The event is inspired by the Icelandic tradition of kvöldvaka - English for "evening wake" - where in the winter months people would get together indoors in one small room and by the light of a single fish oil lamp they would continue the necessary work of knitting and mending while someone reads aloud to them. 

"Even though Iceland was a very poor nation at the time, it developed into a very literate nation of book lovers", said the author. 

The Westmorland Gazette:

Sarah Thomas, who was on a visit to Iceland in 2008 as a filmmaker and anthropologist, turned the week-long visit into a half-decade adventure.

She embarked on a journey with a man she ended up marrying and afterwards divorcing, and during her personal crisis, the author found inspiration in the raven's nest.

Afterwards she returned to the UK and chose Kendal as her new home - the place where she started writing her book.

She said: "When I moved back from the UK to Iceland I was looking for a place that felt the most like Iceland that I could find and so I ended up in Cumbria.

"I started doing creative writing sessions at the Brewery Arts Centre which were called The Writers Tool Box and it was run by a local writer named Janni Howker. 

"All my homework from that course were these things about Iceland that just wanted to come out and I did the book as part of my PhD at Glasgow University."

The book, which was written between Kendal and Staveley, is an "ecological memoir that has a different structure of storytelling", said the writer.

She added: "I built it like a nest so you can drop in and drop out of it at any point.

"It got many threads on it because I was looking to tell a story where humans weren't at the centre of it, so it is a story of many relationships with a man, with a landscape and with a community."

Sarah Thomas has been taking this tradition to festivals and bookshops throughout the country including a sold-out event at the recent Mountain Festival in Kendal.

She will be reading her book at 6pm in Kendal Waterstones.

The event is free for the ones who purchase the book.