Best-selling author Katharine McMahon is promising a “lively discussion” when she co-hosts a series of virtual bookclubs next month as part of Watford’s One Town, One Book project.

The former Watford resident has teamed up with Watford Borough Council for the campaign as part of the Watford Together initiative during the coronavirus pandemic.

One Town, One Book aims to unite the town through a love of reading and Katharine’s latest novel, The Hour of Separation, is the focal point for it.

The novel is set in Watford and a fictional farm in Belgium during two world wars and the tale of heroism, human endurance and love chimes strongly with the challenges still being faced through the Covid-19 crisis.

Alongside Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor, Katharine will host three bookclub sessions next month. These are planned for July 2, 7 and 9 from 7pm to 8pm.

Asked what participants can expect, Katharine told the Watford Observer: “Lively discussion. I’m interested to learn about their experience of reading the book. And to discuss with them how my ideas grow, and how I make decisions about the book.

“I hope we can all gain insights – not just in The Hour of Separation, but into writing and reading in general. And also into the themes of the book, which is about war, love and betrayal.”

The author will also be holding a virtual writers’ workshop on July 4 from 10am to 11.30am, but will discuss the areas to be covered in advance with those taking part.

She said: “I’d like to make the workshop relevant to them, and give them fresh perspectives on the challenges they encounter in their writing.

“I have published ten novels and run masterclasses on historical fiction, so I would expect detailed discussion about voice, language, plot and character, for example.”

Mr Taylor is looking forward to co-hosting the bookclubs and workshops and is particularly hoping residents who have struggled during the Covid-19 crisis will take part.

He said: “Katharine and I will be hosting the sessions and making sure to guide engaging discussions. We encourage residents to take part because these sessions are a good way to share your ideas and connect with others in the community. Plus, how many people can say they get to take part in a bookclub with the bestselling author of the book they are reading?

“We especially encourage those who are struggling with anxiety, depression, loneliness, isolation or any kind of struggle during Covid-19 to participate. Reading has so many benefits including reducing anxiety and improving mental health.

“I know some residents have had limited interaction with others during this challenging time, and the bookclub sessions are a great opportunity for human connection and to engage in stimulating discussion.”

Watford Observer:

The cover of The Hour of Separation

A critically acclaimed and commercially successful author of ten novels including The Rose of Sebastopol and The Crimson Rooms, Watford is a town very close to Katharine’s heart.

She reflected: “It was my home for 30 years. We lived in three different houses, our children were all educated in Watford, I taught in local schools, we made close friendships and were involved in the community – my husband was a councillor, I was a magistrate and was involved with the Palace Theatre.

“My daughters acted with the Pump House, and the Palace Youth Theatre, my son played football with Sun Postal. I have always enjoyed the shopping centre, Cassiobury Park, and the canal and woods – but above all being part of a vibrant and diverse town.”

Given Katharine’s strong affinity with the town, she was “delighted to get involved” in One Town, One Book and said: “For me, as a writer, it’s a chance to discuss the book with a wider audience. And I think the idea of a community reading a book is a very powerful one, that I’d love to support. Who know what may come of it?”

Primarily though, she hopes the initiative will “give people an experience to share and talk about”, explaining: “Covid has deprived us of our usual shared experiences – football, theatre, film, offices, even buses and trains. One Town, One Book will get people involved not just in reading but in talking about the ideas it provokes; memories, connections, feelings…”

The Mayor said The Hour of Separation was a “natural choice” for the campaign given its setting and Katharine’s ties. He continued: “This initiative will help bring our town together, giving people the chance to create new connections and friendships.

“It’s fantastic to have a bestselling novel set in our town, and the themes of human endurance, heroism and love in Katharine McMahon’s The Hour of Separation can resonate with all of us during the challenges we’re facing right now.

“I am sure our virtual book club will give people the chance to discuss some really important issues at the moment.”

If you are interested in joining one of the virtual book club sessions, email