Publication Date: 23rd February 2023
Emma Flint’s debut novel Little Deaths is one of my favourite books of all time and has pride of place on my Forever Shelf. When I heard that Emma had a new novel out I had very high hopes. Let me tell you that I was not disappointed.
Other Women is set in London in the years after WW1. A time when many men returned from the war disfigured, disabled or mentally scarred. Many did not return at all leaving behind grieving mothers, widows and sisters.
Bea is 37, recently moved to London from the north and is working as a bookkeeper and typist for a stationary company. She lives in a women’s club in Bloomsbury with other single, independent women. But Bea is feeling overlooked. Her parents are dead, her brother too and she only really has her sister Jane who she sees rarely. She is not a widow or a grieving mother, so who is she? She is no longer young enough in society’s eyes to be considered pretty and vibrant like the bright young things she sees around her, so she is struggling to find her place.
When Tom Ryan is hired as a salesman for the company she works at, he eschews the young flirty office girls attentions in favour of the more mature Bea. Bea is entranced by him and he brings colour to her life. The only issue is he’s married.
We then meet Katie, wife of Tom and mother of his child, Judith. Katie met and married Tom very young and they have settled into a stable marriage that is perhaps a little dull. Katie is aware that Tom has his ladies on the side but turns a blind eye as he always comes back to her and their daughter.
When an act of violence in a coastal cottage means the two women’s lives converge, there is trauma and pain that could never have been predicted.
Emma Flint is an incredible writer who for me perfectly depicts female characters who you will never forget. They are flawed and damaged with a vulnerability but also an innate strength and stoicism. She also writes crime in a domestic setting perfectly too and in Other Women writes courtroom scenes that focus not only on the facts but how the central character is feeling. The emotion, the trauma, the horror of it all. It also highlights the shocking iniquities in the way men were portrayed in the press at the time versus women and how courtroom news was reported on.
Emma writes sentences that are so expertly crafted that I found myself feverishly underlining and going back to re-read them. Descriptive and evocative, sublime!
The backdrop of post-war London and society at the time was expertly researched and conveyed and I really felt swept up in the times.
The story was based on a true event and the afterword by the author was fascinating!
This is a book I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
Thank you to Picador for my proof copy.
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookishchat x