Shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize.
At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.
When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.
As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.
Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.
This is the first book I’ve read from Anne Goodwin. Sugar and Snails is her debut novel and what an impressive story it is. Anne draws upon her psychiatric knowledge to write a narrative which is absorbing, poignant and intriguing.
To begin with we are introduced to Diana a 40 something Professor living a life of solitude with her much loved cat Marmaduke (who almost takes on the role of a life partner – she can’t bare to part with him.) Diana begins looking for love and hopes to find it with Simon.
But Simon doesn’t know her secret…
As the story progresses we learn that there is so much more to this novel – discovering Diana’s past and her decision at the tender age of 15 to change gender. So this is both a coming-of-age story as well as an exploration of mid-life and gender issues. There are shifting time periods and settings in different cultures: (Cairo, Egypt and North Derbyshire, and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, in England,) which interweave the story in a confident way.
The characters of Diana’s mother and in particular her father are also carefully and brilliantly crafted.
My recommendation: Highly recommended. You will love this story if you enjoy thoughtful stories about gender, family relationships, psychiatric/mental health/self-harm issues, secrets and regrets and the search for love and acceptance.
Thank you so much to the author for a complimentary copy which I was pleased to receive. I happily give my unbiased opinion.
My rating: 5 stars.
Anne Goodwin writes entertaining fiction about identity, mental health and social justice. She is the author of three novels and short story collection published by small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her new novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, is inspired by her previous incarnation as a clinical psychologist in a long-stay psychiatric hospital.
Authors Blog: annegoodwin.weebly.com