Imprint: Jonathan Cape
Length: 272 Pages
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.
Imprint: Jonathan Cape
Length: 272 Pages
"Beautifully, psychologically exact. Leviston reveals, confronts, disarms and pares us from our unwitting, falser selves. Superbly written and fearlessly imagined fiction."
"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."
"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."
"Superb. Elegant, enthralling, often frightening, Leviston walks the dangerous edge of desire and discovery in women's lives."
"Frances Leviston’s prose, like her poetry, is as illuminating as it is unsettling. Her narratives are all about what remains unsaid and the silent inexorable falling into place of deep truth."
"The Voice in My Ear is so devastatingly perceptive and intimidatingly accomplished in a range of modes that it's hard to sit still while you're reading; often I found myself pacing up and down the hallway in raptures at the quality of the prose or terror at the exquisitely harrowing turn of the plot. Aside from the formal mastery, Leviston is fearless in facing difficult truths of which lesser writers never even get within telescopic range. Uncompromising and stricken but delivered through beautiful observation and unrivalled emotional and intellectual insight."
"What an extraordinary book, so dense with understanding about personhood and relatedness, about connection, disconnection and unconnection. Frances Leviston puts her distinctive and compelling style at the service of a precise, sinuous, at times agonisingly subcutaneous storytelling. There's a clarity and superobservancy of the everyday that she conveys along with 'the sorrow that never was said': the hidden, the unspeakable, that shapes so much of experience."
"This heated, haunted debut is about the dark, violent knots we carry inside ourselves – and what happens when they start to unravel. A lyric, frightening portrayal of what it means to move through the world in female form."
"The absorbing stories that make up Frances Leviston's The Voice in My Ear do what fiction does best, swimming deep in complexity and ambivalence. A work of high emotional intelligence and narrative control."
"Absolutely exquisite, combining just the right amount of sweet and sour. The characters in The Voice in my Ear haunted me long after I'd finished reading. Leviston has an uncanny ability to turn a small moment into a kind of meditation on humanity."