Occasion of Sin
Occasion of Sin is being reissued by Endeavour Media, online and print on demand. It was first published in 1982, in the UK by Hamish Hamilton and in the USA by Summit Books. It’s very exciting for an author to reach out for new audiences over thirty years after a book first appeared.
It is set in the 1970s at a time when feminism was confronting women and men with new questions. Where does a woman’s duty to her family, to husband and children, stand when placed against duty to herself and her own personal responsibilities?
The novel is a story of overwhelming love but it is also, behind the romance and passion, a story of sexual politics. Laura is a good, loving mother and wife when she falls wildly in love with Martin. Almost at once she faces all the agony of choice. Her unyielding husband makes it clear that she if she leaves with her lover, he will do everything he can to stop her seeing her young son.
In fact Occasion of Sin, although so firmly placed in the 1970s was inspired by one of the great novels, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy which was published in the 1878. Of course times are different in a novel set a hundred years later and in a different, kinder society but the central dilemma remains. Few readers picked up the close resemblance of the plots of the two novels, although I quote a few moving lines from Anna Karenina at the start of my book.
‘Love’, she repeated slowly to herself, and suddenly, as she disentangled the lace, she added: ‘I dislike the word because it means too much to me, far more than you can understand,’ and she glanced at his face. ‘Au revoir.’ Amazon (£3.99 eBook).
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Early on in my career, I wrote short novels, sometimes no more than 50,000 words. But for many years now, my books have increased to three times that length. So why did I suddenly write a 45,000 word novella? Not easy to say. Illusion is a black comedy, set in the Tuscan hills of Italy. Eight very different people gather for a painting course. Many have dark secrets, most have serious problems, some are simply ridiculous. Up in the woods the boars are bellowing and down in the Villa Cinghiale, the painters gather round Inigo, the artist in resident, with his dangling silver curls and his huge sandals. His pupils include an ex-prisoner, an undercover policeman occasionally in drag, a sybilline Japanese professor, a sleek Texan searching for a third husband, a teenage boy on the prowl and two women who have known each other too long for comfort. Then the young girl cook goes missing and a murder hunt begins. What is Marcello, the almost too handsome Italian owner of the villa, doing in a hut high up in the hills? Closer to home, why is he shut up with Keiko in the generator room?
Illusion is published by Endeavour Media online and in print on demand.