Sunday, 13 June 2010

Helen Dunmore

I'm re-reading my favourite Helen Dunmore novels at the moment, rediscovering the pleasure of reading pitch-perfect prose shot through with a bitterdark strand of realism, whether crime, thriller, tragedy or history. I had the pleasure of interviewing Helen last week, for a piece which will appear in the autumn issue of the Bristol Review of Books. It was fascinating to discuss fiction with her, including the nuances of character, the need for distinct voices and what Helen calls 'the role of the dead in the lives of the living'.

Of her novels I would particularly recommend Talking to the Dead, which is set during a heatwave one summer as a family regroups and falls apart after the birth of a new baby awakens memories of an old death. Your Blue-Eyed Boy is the book of hers I've read most often, and it still grips me. Set by the sea, it's another but very different story of the past returning to haunt the present. Every character is credible, layered and complex. I haven't read much of her poetry but would like to. Can anyone recommend a good starting-point?

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