Published by Sparkling Books, The Eloquence of Desire is set in the mid 1950s and is set in old Malaya, London and Brighton. After his affair with his boss’s daughter is discovered, George is sent to Malaya as punishment. His wife Dorothy follows him while their twelve year old daughter, Susan, goes to boarding school. Still ruled by Britain, Malaya is in the throes of the Emergency. The intense tropical heat and her fear of the civil unrest turn Dorothy into a recluse while George, frustrated by her rejection, embarks on another affair. After an attack by Chinese Communists, Susan, over from England, finds her father and lover together. An event that will have serious consequences...
Here is a short interview with the author, Amanda Sington-Williams, which will give you a little more insight in the workings of the novel…
Q: Where did the idea for The Eloquence of Desire originate?
A: The idea for The Eloquence of Desire came from The Carving, a short story which was short-listed for the Asham Award, a short story prize for unpublished women writers. The short story was set in 1930s Malaya but I decided to set my novel in the mid 1950s. I have always been interested in the ‘50s and the expectations and the consequential ‘cover-ups’ within family life during that decade. In the 1950s, divorce was unusual and I was curious to see how a dysfunctional family would cope after being sent off to a far flung British Colony in the throes of a civil war.
Q: What did you want to achieve with this novel?
A: I wanted to convey tropical heat, the terror of the unrest and a feeling of helplessness. In the case of Dorothy, in particular, I wanted to portray the suffering wife, isolation. I have to admit to having a fascination for obsessive love and the kind of ‘madness’ that comes with it. I was interested to see how obsessive love would affect a man who was forced to live thousands of miles from the woman he desired. I was also keen to explore how a teenage daughter would react to these changed circumstances. In the novel, Susan, visits her parents in Malaya during the holidays from boarding school. It is while she is in Malaya that she finds out things about her family that she was unaware of before. I used to work with ‘vulnerable’ young people and drew on that experience to describe her emotional state and how she coped with parents who refused to tell her what was going on.
Q: Was it difficult to set your novel in such an exotic country?
A: I’ve visited Malaysia many times so had my own experience to draw on. Also, my grandparents lived there for twenty years and my mother was born there so I was able to use their photographs to help me describe locations in the novel.
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