Two new heartbreakingly hilarious publications from Wendy Perriam
‘I’m on the train!’
Who hasn’t winced as some phone-pest embarks on a maddeningly public conversation? But, in Perriam’s title-story, the timidly conformist Stephen does rather more than wince. Overcoming a lifetime of restraint, he leaps to his feet on a crowded commutertrain and throttles the offender.
Now in paperback, Wendy Perriam’s sixteenth novel tells the tempestuous story of Eric Parkhill, a modern-day foundling, given his name by the park-keeper who found him. Starting in a mess, he finally reveals his inner strengths and even becomes an unlikely hero to his estranged and wayward daughter.
Or does he? The hair’s-breadth line between reality and flights of fancy is a feature of these stories – as in much of Perriam’s work – the power of the imagination providing a highly effective antidote to grief, loss or frustration. Whether it’s Carole, the office dogsbody, finding self-esteem and status through her congress with an Archangel, or Connie, an octogenarian spinster, reliving her aborted wedding day by passionately kissing the visiting plumber, Perriam’s characters transform their lives in unexpected ways.
You may love Eric – or want to shake him! Passionately idealistic about his work as a librarian, he’s also ruefully aware that he’s not exactly Superman. Forced to hide his mysterious background and his mortifying fears, he’s a man with secrets – withheld even from close friends. His once homely wife, now a fashionista, has abandoned him, to live in Seattle with a high-powered corporate kingpin, taking their only child, a moody minx-in-waiting, about to turn thirteen.
Yet, amidst such shocks and surprises are quieter moments of grace: true heavenly grace descending on an atheist in Westminster Cathedral; grace granted to a grieving daughter at a distinctly offbeat funeral; grace surprising an eighteen-year-old, who, after years of rebellion against her parents, is forced to recognize the blessings and securities of home.
Yet, against the odds, Eric sets out to prove himself – indeed, even to find a soul-mate. Whether braving ‘Choco-Love’ SpeedDating; running Wandsworth Prison readers’ groups; attending an American Church that champions the Gospel of Prosperity, or rescuing his daughter from near-rape – he eventually comes to epitomize the truth of Hemingway’s words: The world breaks everyone and, afterward, many are strong at the broken places.
‘I’m on the train!’ brilliantly chronicles the dramas and dilemmas inherent in our human condition, in another outstanding collection from one of Britain’s leading short-story writers.
Shortlisted for the MIND Book of the Year, Broken Places combines laugh-out-loud comedy with an examination of fear: the most common – and most frequently concealed – of all our human emotions.
Wendy Perriam Wendy Perriam has been writing since the age of five, completing her first ‘novel’ at eleven. Expelled from boarding school for heresy, she escaped to Oxford, where she read History and also trod the boards. She now divides her time between teaching and writing. Her 16 novels and 7 short-story collections boldly mix sex, religion and humour, and have been acclaimed for their psychological insight and their power to disturb, divert and shock. Perriam feels that her many conflicting life experiences – strict convent-school discipline and swingingsixties wildness, marriage and divorce, infertility and motherhood – have shaped her as a writer. ‘Writing allows for shadow-selves. I’m both the staid conformist matron and the slag; the well-organised author toiling at her desk and the madwoman shrieking in a straitjacket’. Herald Tribune Sunday Times Sunday Telegraph
For more information about Wendy and her books, please visit:
Special Offer on both books! 978-0-7090-9135-6
Published 30 April 2012 Both titles also available as ebooks from 31 August 2012
ROBERT HALE LTD Publishers since 1936
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