Home Thoughts

“Thoroughly enjoyable. I admired the dexterity with which Tim Parks moves from one voice to another in the creation of a gallery of entirely credible contemporary characters”

Penelope Lively

One’s deepest subject matter will always be the same. I’ve always suspected that. The same play as forces as one’s personality. So it’s always seemed important to be constantly changing the form in which that play takes place. By the time I started Home Thoughts, Tongues of Flame and Loving Roger had both been accepted for publication, hence the decision to change style, move away from the intense first person to a fragmented narrative coming across in a series of letters. I’d been in Italy some years at this point, yet it still wasn’t quite home. I was still attached to a British ex-pat community here in Verona, a community where every member was constantly on the brink of going back. They had to decide every day whether they were staying or not. It was exhausting. People had come, of course, to escape a boyfriend, to find adventure, to avoid the straitjacket of a career, in short to put life off, and yet all were writing home, negotiating the terms of a possible return, while for some life was actually putting down roots here without their knowing it. So this is the novel about that community, fizzing with plots, some hilarious, some sad, shot through with the special pathos of letters pre-e.mail, pre-fax even: the intimacy, that is, of a loved one’s handwriting, speaking directly to you, but a loved one who can lie about everything, because, of course, you are so far away. Ultimately, what you discover, is that home isn’t at the end of a train or plane ride. It’s in the past.

Short takes

Well and cleverly written, funny and sad

Rosamund Pilcher

Very sharp…most impressive

The Times