A Shell in Time by Lida Lopes Cardozo Kindersley & Els Bottema - review by Tanya Harrod

Tanya Harrod

Lines in the Sand

A Shell in Time


Cardozo Kindersley 226pp £20

Once upon a time, two little girls grew up in Delft in the Netherlands. Both born in 1954, they were for a while ‘best’ friends. They drifted apart in their teens, met again as young women and finally came together with a bang when they both found they had breast cancer in their late forties. One of them is the letter cutter Lida Lopes Cardozo Kindersley, who runs the famous Cardozo Kindersley Workshop in Cambridge. The other is Els Bottema, once a social worker, now a potter living in Zutphen, northeast of Arnhem. They are the joint authors of A Shell in Time, a dialogic double autobiography.

Kindersley has form when it comes to these kinds of conversational publications. The Alphabetician and the Rabbi is made up of letters she exchanged with the British Reform rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok. Conversations about stone preparation and letter-cutting lead into discussions about faith and the various staging posts of life. In Words Made Stone, we find Kindersley in conversation with Marcus Waithe, an English scholar and admirer of John Ruskin, as they mull over what Waithe describes as ‘the traffic between mental composition and physical execution’.

A Shell in Time is a more personal book, with the potential to reach a far wider readership. It culminates in the creation by Kindersley and Bottema of the famous shell line that stretches down to the sea across the beach known as Shingle Street on the Suffolk coast. The

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