How interesting to read that an agent, not wishing to be named, expressed the view at the London book fair last week that; ‘we really need to move on … We want something more positive, something more life affirming.’ I am so relieved that this view has been expressed. I found ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’ page turners, and definitely in this ‘grip-lit’ category. But both left me disliking all the characters, therefore not caring about the outcome. In fact I was left with the equivalent to ‘a nasty taste in my mouth’. Neither novel do I wish to read again.
The mantra of this year’s fair was evidently; ‘If you cry, you buy.’ This is equally distressing. I don’t want to read happy, happy stories with cosy endings, but to only write in order to either make your reader turn pages, or to weep, is sad in itself.
Yet this is not the whole tale as is evident from the various long and shortlists of valued competitions. A delightful surprise to me recently was; ‘My Name is Leon’ by Kit de Waal, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Subject matter believable, characters totally real to whom you can be sympathetic and have empathy, and a story line which keeps you gripped in the best possible way. I have already ordered a copy as a gift.