Angela has been best friends with Lorraine since their first day at St Philomena’s primary school aged four. Though Angela is from the council housing scheme and Lorraine a more affluent area where plastic lions grace the ends of driveways, her intelligence and ability to mop up her friend’s tears has made Angela the more dominant of the pair. But now, at seventeen and with the option of leaving school for a job at the local factory, it’s looking as if Lorraine has the greater social capital, and not only in attracting the boys. As her friend begins to pull away into the arms of former Borstal boy, Stevie, or, perhaps more shockingly, seduced by the pro-life horror movie, to hang around with Pamela, a.k.a. Little Miss Brown Nose, Angela feels betrayed. Can she eat her way to happiness or will a week with her parents and gran at a caravan site in Filey save the friendship?
It’s great to be able to celebrate the novelistic debut of another of my Twitter friends. Talk of the Toun is a bitter-sweet coming-of-age story about family, friendship, ambition, Catholicism and class. Thanks to ThunderPoint Publishing for my review copy. For another novel from this small independent press, see my review of The Birds That Never Flew. For further reflections on Helen’s novel, do check out her Q&A with Poppy Peacock and her thoughts on setting her novel in a small town on Isabel Costello’s Literary Sofa.