‘The past, the past,’ you say irritably, putting down your wine glass. ‘All past. What’s the point?’
‘But the past is what makes us. It’s why we’re here.’
‘The past is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Made-up memories and unreliable stories. You said it yourself. Shadows. The only thing that’s real is right now.’
Precocious reminded me of a couple of my short stories: Kinky Norm about an English teacher’s dysfunctional relationship with adolescent girls, and In Search of Mr Right (unfortunately I don’t have a functioning link to this) about what happens when a middle-aged marriage goes stale. Maybe I’m reading everything through the prism of my own forthcoming novel at the moment, or perhaps it’s a happy coincidence of novels being published this month, but I also found a strong connection with Sugar and Snails. Like Fiona, my character, Diana, is stuck in adolescence, never having fully processed what happened to her at fifteen. Both women have tried to put it behind them; both, as teenagers, thought they were in control. Fiona avoids acknowledging that she was a victim; Diana doesn’t realise that she was a child, too young to choose.
In 2014, Joanna Barnard’s novel won the Bath Novel Award. It’s published this week by Ebury Press to whom thanks for my review copy.