Most unusual, very convincing, a good read but also thought-provoking and moving, especially at the end. The inclusion of music and dance really works and it has so much to say that is really important about life and about death. A real tour de force. Carole Bromley
A thought-provoking, well-written novel about a future in which the effects of climate change are tangible and older people are forced to die the ‘noble death’ … this is also a touching portrait of a friendship that comes close to love. Mark McCrum
Some unsolicited comments
I finished your book last night and wanted to write to you to express how much I enjoyed it. You’ve chosen such an interesting, compelling subject: there are so many ideas – philosophical and moral – held lightly inside a gripping story. I really believed in Zanna as a person, William too. I liked the way their relationship was never sexually consummated but, instead, hovered around the possibility, the potential for such intimacy, never to be fulfilled, and how the emotional control that you exerted over the relationship resonated with both with the existential sadness at the heart of the book, but also its message that all there is, is the present moment, in all its joy and delight.
William’s dementia is also touched on lightly. His decision to take himself off into the sea felt absolutely right.
Although this appears to be accidental, your timing in releasing this book could not be more apposite – with the death of so many who are elderly and frail. The themes you touch on: our species’ obsession with avoiding / ‘cheating’ death, if at all possible, the relentless destruction of the natural world (and us along with it), our capacity for resilience, hope and creativity in the darkest moments are all so resonant at this time. There were some lovely touches – such as when Zanna wants pen and paper to write down her thoughts about dance and then, in the absence of both, trusts instead to her capacity to remember and to the embodied memory of her body.
I kept expecting police to turn up at her shack – and they didn’t. That was lovely too: unexpected and much less predictable. She really has, for the moment, disappeared under the radar and we are left knowing that, if her wish is realised, she will remain alone on the beach until the sea takes her, one way or another. Sue
I have just finished reading your book – it is particularly poignant in these current times! The further I read, the more it touched me in a few raw and personal, tucked-away places. Throughout I was always aware of you speaking, I could not shake it off – perhaps that contributed to ‘Zanna’s’ senstivity and her positive attitude to life. Scarey at times too! I did find the ending arrived at a good pace and was quite affirming. Win
An extract from Chapter 6 of The Elder Race was published in the French Literary Review, April 2021, Issue 35, pp 18-20