Speaking of Love
is a novel that asks why we fail to find the courage to say the things that matter the most and, specifically, what happens when people who love each other don’t say so.
The novel is about parents failing their children and those same children abandoning their parents; about how lovers grow apart and how, sometimes, mental disintegration prohibits communication altogether. Iris experiences pain, loneliness and fear. Her daughter, Vivie, longs for love but thinks herself unlovable. And Matthew, Vivie’s would-be lover, fails to say how he feels.
But just before you decide SPEAKING of LOVE is too gloomy … it’s also a novel about hope and the restoration of trust, a novel that shows how stories can help make sense of our complicated internal worlds, a novel about the healing power of stories and, most of all, a novel about the healing power of speaking of love.
When a single moment brings all the characters together there is an opportunity for years of mistrust, hopelessness and loneliness to give way to reconciliation and, most of all, the opportunity for each person to find the courage to say what’s in their hearts.
‘The real risk, it seems to me, lies in not talking about the things that matter the most. That’s what made Iris ill. What we don’t say doesn’t go away.’
SPEAKING of LOVE is set in London, with at least three scenes set in The Troubadour in the 1960s: their website has a Troubadour references in novels page on which SPEAKING of LOVE features. The novel is also set in East Anglia and at a storytelling festival that takes place in the magical grounds and gardens of St Donat’s Castle in south-west Wales.
I began to write SPEAKING of LOVE after witnessing a breakdown that terrified me and kept me terrified long after the event. When a person you think you know becomes quite another person, all sense of trust in the predictability and reliability of things deserts you. I was afraid I would go mad myself but I also wanted to unearth the roots of my fear. I couldn’t articulate that when I began writing SPEAKING of LOVE, it was quite unconscious. All I felt was a fascination with and terror of madness, but I also had a growing hunch that the old stories might help my protagonist re-assemble and re-member the threads of her life. And, as I wrote, I discovered what my protagonist’s daughter discovers in the novel which, naturally, I’ll leave you to discover for yourself.
Before SPEAKING of LOVE found a publisher I sent it to TLC (and I’d recommend any first-time novelist to do the same: they provide wonderfully objective and constructive advice). Subsequently TLC asked some of the writers they’d helped towards publication to write about the experience of working with TLC. If you’d like to read about my TLC experience you can, here.
SPEAKING of LOVE is still available in an electronic version from amazon but, sadly, the publishers of the hardback and the paperback, Beautiful Books, have gone out of business.