Reaching out with realistic dialogue
This article is from 2009.
‘How you write about a woman somewhere in her 20s without being labeled chick-lit, I don’t know,’ says Rebecca Gowers, frustrated by the fact that her novels are so often lumped into the genre of pastel-covered books all about modern ladies cooing over sex and designer shoes. ‘You can be a young woman somewhere in your 20s and have a mentality and interests and even fall in love, yet not fall into the norms of a chick-lit narrative.’
Gowers’ second novel, The Twisted Heart, proves it. The story of gawky Oxford post-graduate student Kit’s awkward relationship with mysterious maths lecturer Joe, it avoids cliché by becoming intertwined with a secondary plot based around Kit’s academic investigation linking Charles Dickens to the murder of a prostitute in 1838 (a theory conceived and researched by the author herself). ‘I hope ultimately that those two storylines speak to each other across the course of the novel.’
Her use of dialogue too is highly unconventional. Gowers eschews perfect, flowing discourse in favour of a ‘more plausible form of disrupted speech’ that falters and stumbles like real conversations do. ‘I get terribly bored of reading dialogue in books that manifestly isn’t how people speak,’ she says. ‘I suppose if this reads like real dialogue, the whole thing is that much more plausible to the reader.’ Gowers hopes those readers will include males and females alike. ‘This is certainly not a book that’s aimed at women specifically. I’d like to think that anyone could read it and find it interesting.’
26 Aug (with Kate Pullinger), 10.15am, £9 (£7).