Christmas Awards 2011

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Featured Author Wendy Perriam/Press release

a novel by
Wendy Perriam

Publication date: 31 August, 2010 Price: £18.99

‘What’s your mother’s name?’
‘What does your father do?’
‘Where do you come from?’
‘Where and when were you born?’

Eric Parkhill has no answers to such questions - or a single known blood-relation. A modern-day foundling, in a long tradition stretching back to Romulus and Remus, and including famous fictional foundlings like Tom Jones, Heathcliff and Oliver Twist, he was abandoned as an infant in a Croydon recreation-ground and given the name of the park-keeper who found him.

Growing up in care, with frequent moves from so-called home to home, his one refuge is the public library, where an altruistic librarian saves him from a dead-end future and eventually encourages him to enter her own profession.

“Writing Broken Places involved a steep learning curve,” Perriam says, of this, her first novel in 8 years. “I knew little about libraries and nothing about children’s homes. Many of those in care have already led blighted lives since birth, and go on to suffer every disadvantage, through no fault of their own. Although shocked by the injustice, I wrote the book as a comedy – light treatment for dark subjects.”

Fear is one such subject. Eric is prey to many terrors – as is Perriam herself. Fear is something of a paradox, in that it’s a basic human drive compelling us to action, yet can result in total paralysis. 2.5 million people in the UK alone suffer from phobias, and the average Briton spends 2½ hours a day worrying – a total of 6½ years over the course of the average lifetime. “More like twenty years in my own case!” Perriam admits.

Yet her aim is to make the reader laugh - and the novel also helped her personally. “My daughter had recently died of tongue-cancer, leaving two small sons, whose father had already died. To cope with my grief, I plunged myself into work, feeling I was writing the book for her. Sometimes I had the uncanny sense that she was helping me from beyond the grave. Who knows?”

About the Author

Wendy Perriam has been writing since the age of 5, completing her first ‘novel’, A Pony At Last, on her 12th birthday. Expelled from boarding school for heresy - told she was in Satan’s power and in danger of eternal damnation - she escaped to Oxford, where she read History and also trod the boards. After a variety of offbeat jobs, ranging from artist’s model to carnation-disbudder to researcher on medieval cookery, she now divides her time between teaching and writing. Having begun by writing poetry, she went on to publish 15 novels and 6 short-story collections. She has also written extensively for newspapers and magazines.

Wendy feels that her many conflicting life experiences – strict convent-school discipline and swinging-sixties wildness, marriage and divorce, infertility and motherhood, 9-to-5 conformity and periodic Bedlam – have helped shape her as a writer. ‘Writing allows for shadow-selves. I’m both the staid conformist matron and the slag; the well-organised author toiling at her desk and the madwoman shrieking in a straitjacket.’

Notes to Editors
Wendy Perriam’s latest novel, Broken Places, will be published in hardback by Robert Hale on 31 August, 2010.
Wendy is available for interview. Her previous novels include Absinthe for Elevenses, After Purple, Born of Woman, Sin City, Second Skin and Tread Softly.

Visit her website at

For more information, review copies and photographs,
please contact Paola Motka at Robert Hale Publishers
Tel: 020 7251 2661 Email:


Perriam is a writer of authority and skill, with a wicked ear for conversational quirks. Sunday Times

One of the finest and funniest writers to emerge in England since Kingsley Amis. She is gifted with devastating powers of observation and can call up characters who are both compact and complex. Herald Tribune

Wendy Perriam is one of the funniest writers around. Daily Telegraph

Perriam is a real find - she has that magical combination of a brisk, lively style and a literate intelligence. Sunday Express

She has a considerable command of her craft and a shrewd sense of those aspects of contemporary life which are worth recording. Times Literary Supplement

Each book is a magnificently orchestrated orgy in which her potent blend of sex, religion and humour takes the reader on a spiritual odyssey from the solid rocks of safety to the wilder shores of fantasy. Time Out

One of the most interesting unsung novelists of her generation, Perriam is a skilled and sympathetic observer of contemporary life. Intelligent and accessible … she writes beautifully about relationships and hilariously about sex. Sunday Telegraph

Perriam is rare among contemporary writers in the breadth of her canvas and the boldness of her colours: a sort of literary blend of Benjamin Haydon and Stanley Spencer. Books and Bookmen

Perriam’s shrewd, sharp prose style is complemented by a marvellous talent for satirical observation. The Scotsman

Perriam must be a strong contender for Britain’s most underrated novelist. Daily Telegraph

Perriam makes waves with her novels because each of them is an unusually honest projection of her personality and each of them is sustained by a fine command of her craft. Glasgow Herald

Never predictable, never sentimental, she is a terrific champion of the powers of the imagination to transform individual lives. The Tablet

Wendy Perriam is sometimes very funny, sometimes very sexual, sometimes very painful, and always difficult to pin down. Standard


Perriam remains a writer of great charm and considerable technical skill. Sunday Telegraph

Perriam is the novelist who makes purple prose a term of approval. Nobody does deep feelings better. Sunday Times

Perriam's strength is emotional accuracy. She draws convincing characters and poignant situations, and the reader can't help but be emotionally involved. The Spectator

It is Wendy Perriam’s gift to set out a chessboard of conventional characters with whom the reader can identify, and move them, perfectly plausibly, into the most extraordinary situations. You settle down for a nice, undemanding read, then you are hooked and finally you cannot put the book down. Daily Telegraph

Perriam is both clever and funny, as well as being a skilled artist with something to say about life. This is an author who has learned how to face the world and tame the horrors of life: we should be grateful for her optimism – it is infectious. The Tablet

Wendy Perriam was born to write. She looks at the world with a different eye from the rest of us. Her work refreshes and exhilarates. She gets to the heart of the matter, and there, lurking beneath the seriously mundane, we discover the spiritual underpinnings of the universe. I am her greatest fan. Fay Weldon

It is impossible to categorise this prolific novelist, whose work is a bizarre mixture of intellectual gravitas and sex scenes more steamy than any you’d find in a bonkbuster. Perriam has a pacy Polaroid pen. Daily Mail.

Wendy Perriam must be one of the most underrated writers in the country. But in an oeuvre of nearly 20 books, she has proved a consistently sharp chronicler of modern Britain. She is also an extremely entertaining storyteller. As so often with Perriam – and this is a large part of her appeal – you do not know whether to laugh or cry. Sunday Telegraph

Perriam’s novels are full of learned allusions. In a lesser writer, such moments would appear pretentious, or at least incongruous. But for Perriam they are part of the broad fabric she so skilfully and entertainingly stitches together. With her eye for lush detail and ear for acute urban wit, she exerts an unsettling and compelling grip. She has such great imaginative prurience it makes her difficult to put down. Time Out

Literary, funny, moving. In a word, wonderful. Daily Mail

Her books will surely live on as great literature long after she and the rest of us have gone. June Sampson. Surrey Comet

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