Then they talked about the mediocrity of provincial life, how stifling it was, how fatal to one’s illusions.
– Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
‘What do I really want? Do I know? Well, I know what I don’t want. I don’t want a life of settled ease with Colin, peppered with a series of casual encounters. I want a lover. A real lover. Someone to bond with on every level …’
It’s the 1980s in rural Suffolk, and Evan has high expectations when he flees the farm and moves in with Colin, but his dreams and illusions are shattered when, bored with country life, he embarks on a series of disastrous affairs …
As my epigraph suggests, I conceived this novel as a modern reworking of Madame Bovary. I even gave my central characters, Evan Barstow and Colin Baverstock, the same initials as Emma and Charles. However, it soon took on a life of its own and, despite hints of impending tragedy, became essentially a comedy of growing up.