Emily Barr is one very solid writer.
She’s written nine novels and has had one published every year since 2001 (with the exception of 2007, but more on that to come).
From the UK, Emily is a former journalist who has travelled extensively so writes with first-hand experience from some beautiful destinations.
Her most recent book is ‘The Perfect Lie’. The main character is a seemingly mature 30-something Lucy. She lives in Cornwall, has a partner, a job at the local pub and a lovely group of friends but… she’s living a lie. One day she accidentally ends up doing something heroic that results in unwanted media attention and threatens to blow her cover. She scarpers to Europe, leaving her perfect life (lie) behind.
What had she done, why did she do it and what on earth does she do next? I won’t ruin the story for you but in my opinion, you won’t want to put the book down until you find out.
The previous year’s novel (2009) is ‘The Life You Want’. This is the sequel to her very first novel ‘Backpack’ and is about a mother of two called Tansy who lives in London and is basically stuck in a rut and having a mid-life crisis. Her very understanding husband, who’s worried she’s about to turn into a full-blown alcoholic, sends her off to an ashram in India to visit and help out a friend. Again, it’¢s an unexpected journey that turns Tansy’s world on its head. I’m sure that had I read ‘Backpack’ first (oops), I would have discovered continued storylines and noticed some subtle nuances but ‘The Life You Want’ is a complete work on its own, so it wasn’t a problem.
I’ve read several more of Emily’s books now. ‘Out Of My Depth’, set in the South of France, is particularly good but I can’t wait to find the time to delve into the others too. A full list of her novels is below.
So why do I enjoy Emily Barr’s writing so much?
- Emily’s grasp on how many women think is extraordinary, so her stories are always relatable. Each of her characters could be you or one of your friends and the emotional ups and downs are never too depressing, never too ridiculously frivolous but always interesting.
- She cleverly releases vital plot and character information in small bites.
- Often she’ll unload some of the “how” of the dramatic bombshells early on, leaving the remainder of the story to focus on the “why”. Some authors do this really badly. With the grand reveal out in the open already, why would you want to keep reading? You already know what’s happened. But Emily makes her “why’s” fascinating. As love or loathe these characters, you want to know what makes them tick. And again, it’s the resounding fact that a part of you, or someone that you know, IS that character.
After marvelling at Emily’s excellent output of one novel a year, I realised that wasn’t quite correct. Nothing was published in 2007.
Ever curious, I emailed Emily to ask why she skipped a year and was very impressed to receive a lovely email back from her the very next day.
She hadn’t stopped writing but she’d just had a monster year and so one novel took a little longer to write than the others. And strangely enough, it was this very book, ‘The Sisterhood’ which she said was her easiest and most enjoyable to write.
I don’t know why this was because, when I was writing it in 2006-7, I’d just had my third child, the dog had died, and we moved from one village in rural France to another. I was not happy in the new setting and was thinking about returning to the UK. In short, life was very full, and I think writing the book was a wonderful alternative universe in which I had control over what was happening. With that book, I was always very clear about what the twists would be, and it all just seemed to fall into place.
This made a lot of sense to me. People read or watch TV, DVDs or movies as an escape. It can be relaxing to drift off into another world for a while, especially if your reality is too intense, too boring, too stimulating, too anything really.
Writing can be just like this. When you write, no matter what’s really going on in your life, you can create exactly the situation or scenario that you want… Which is probably why I like it so much! (Let’s play nice and try and leave the”control-freak” jokes at the door shall we?)
For more info on Emily, head to www.emilybarr.com
Emily Barr’s novels:
2001 – Backpack (Sometimes travelling alone can be murder)
2002 – Baggage (Too much to take? Just leave it all behind)
2003 – Cuban Heels
2004 – Atlantic Shift
2005 – Plan B (Plan A is the perfect life, but then there’s the other)
2006 – Out of my Depth
2008 – The Sisterhood (We all have a dark side)
2009 – The Life You Want (Isn’t always the life you need)
2010 – The Perfect Lie (Ever needed to disappear?)