sarah broughton

writer & artist

Gwales Review

 This debut novel is an arresting study of the searing effects of loss on the human mind and the way in which such loss is ignored, dismissed and denied in modern society.

When we first meet her, Tracy is temporarily shacked up with Heather and doing a menial job in the civil service, which she soon loses. She seems not to fit in anywhere or with anyone and is clearly a troubled soul. After seven years together, her partner, Anita, has walked out one day with no explanation. Tracy had believed the relationship to be, if not happy, at least safely codependent and has been left deeply traumatised.

The first-person narrative tracks Tracy’s quest to find Anita and somehow re-anchor herself in life. As she drifts in and out of jobs, relationships and places, she is frighteningly aware of her precarious state of mind: ‘Life is a crack in the pavement I will fall through if I don’t concentrate.’ Interestingly, given that she inhabits a predominantly lesbian and feminist world, it is two male friends who provide the pragmatic, altruistic friendship she needs to get back on track, and who accept the needy user in her without either taking advantage of the neediness or turning the using around to their own benefit. The same cannot be said of some of the women she comes across, which is a sad indictment of the early 1980s scene being portrayed here.

This is a witty, vivid, offbeat novel whose generally rather bleak or forlorn tone is lifted by a wry and biting humour. There are some sharp insights into the loss of self that is an intrinsic part of the grieving process and into the ways in which we get ourselves through, with or without the help of our friends and lovers . . .

Suzy Ceulan Hughes  

A review from, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.