The Voice in My Ear
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*A GUARDIAN BEST BOOK OF 2020*
‘I absolutely loved it… I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed it.’ NAOMI ALDERMAN
The first work of fiction from award-winning poet Frances Leviston offers a frighteningly perceptive slice of contemporary womanhood.
Ten women, all called Claire, are tangled up in complex power dynamics with their families, friends, and lovers. Though all are different ages, and leading different lives, each is haunted by the difficulty of living on her own terms, and by her capacity to harm and be harmed.
Claire is a teenaged babysitter left alone with a strange little girl and her imaginary friend. She is a woman trying to escape her elderly mother by employing an android carer. Claire is a young TV journalist wrecking her first big interview. Claire’s boyfriend discovers more than he bargains for when he begins to read her diary.
And no matter her age or background, Claire is living in the shadow of a monstrous mother.
With startling insight and understanding, Frances Leviston offers a frighteningly perceptive slice of contemporary womanhood. In forensic, indelible prose that is often bleakly funny, The Voice in My Ear reveals a brilliant new voice in fiction – and invites us to consider our own place in the relationships that define us.
‘Beautifully, psychologically exact. Leviston reveals, confronts, disarms and pares us from our unwitting, falser selves. Superbly written and fearlessly imagined fiction.’ SARAH HALL
‘Striking… the stories glance off each other to build a striking portrait of contemporary womanhood.’ GUARDIAN, BEST FICTION 2020
**A TLS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020**
Superb. Elegant, enthralling, often frightening, Leviston walks the dangerous edge of desire and discovery in women's lives. * Adam Foulds * The Eric Gregory award-winning poet Frances Leviston makes an auspicious fictional debut with this collection of short stories... Leviston has a beautiful way with prose. -- Alexander Larman * Observer * A beautiful, brilliant, painful book. It is subtly but unignorably haunting, and its power builds and builds - Leviston has such a clear grasp of the most difficult aspects of being human, and being a woman, from sexual dynamics to surviving your own family. Darkly comic and quietly, devastatingly urgent. * Daisy Buchanan * A remarkable work of fiction - the idea behind it is both brilliant and simple, but it is the execution that brings it off so unsettlingly well. Leviston writes with lacerating psychological accuracy, and has a poet's sense for the details that give us - and so much more than us - away. In The Voice in my Ear, the dark undercurrents of our most ordinary relationships are exposed through a series of perfect plots and haunting character studies. * Patrick McGuinness * Beautifully, psychologically exact. Leviston reveals, confronts, disarms and pares us from our unwitting, falser selves. Superbly written and fearlessly imagined fiction. * Sarah Hall * Award-winning poet Frances Leviston's impressive debut work of fiction...works brilliantly...inordinately more than a standard short-story collection... Leviston's imagery leaps off the page... I am not going to forget [these characters] any time soon. -- Lucy Scholes * i * A sharp, insightful story collection... Leviston is a keen observer of the ways other people can burrow deep inside an individual's mind... The emotional impact of such relationships are, in Leviston's hands, devastatingly, thrillingly clear. * New Statesman * [The Voice in My Ear has] a psychological and emotional coherence unusual for a story collection... You can feel the subtext pulse between the lines and occasionally, thrillingly, it surges onto the page... Extraordinary... Leviston is so skilled at noticing and cataloguing the emotional abrasion of being a daughter, the toll of motherhood and love's ability to wound... But these responses are matched, and exceeded, by the admiration, excitement and exhilaration provoked by what she achieves on the page. -- Chris Power * Sunday Times * Frances Leviston's debut work of fiction positively knocked my socks off. Each of the 10 stories in The Voice in My Ear is about a different woman called Claire - an apt appellation for characters illuminating aspects of modern life... She has triumphantly succeeded in turning a poetic perceptivity to the [short story] form. -- Mia Levitin * Financial Times * Brilliant, bracing... Dazzling... One of the many triumphs of this original, peculiarly truthful book is to leave us questioning what kindness is and what care is, no longer able to take the platitudes of daily life for granted also unwilling to leave them behind. -- Lara Feigel * Guardian *
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