Originally published: June 2018
Author: Kate Smith
Published by: Valley Press
Page count: 240
Reading dates: 20-24 June 2018
Star Rating: 4/5
A tragic yet humorous coming-of-age story plotting the sexually-charged relationship between two young women.
The Negligents is a coming-of-age story of friends Grace and Polina and their families.
When they are small, Polina seems to live very much in the shadow of Grace who is the more confident of the pair. Polina grows up with just her mum, Maggie who is depressed and unable to connect to her daughter. Grace grows up with her parents Doug & Amy and her half brother Ed (who is not Doug’s son).
Told using the framework of a legal negligence claim, this book explores the nature of friendship and of family loyalty. We watch the girls growing up: we see Polina’s first kiss with another girl at school, we see her move away to University in Cambridge, get a job as a lawyer then fall into alcoholism. We see Grace feeling left behind after school, not knowing what to do with her life before running her own café and meeting a man.
The book is told from multiple viewpoints and is very much a character driven story. Containing both sadness and humour it is very easy to relate to the emotions the characters feel. It’s a quick read – the scenes are short and snappy and the author plays with the format of the text. I feel the characters have stayed with me well after I finished the book.
About the author:
Kate Smith was born in Essex in 1974. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University, where she wrote and performed comedy sketches as part of Footlights’ Smokers and qualified as a lawyer.
Kate now lectures in Law at BPP University in London and writes comedy with a partner for television and radio. She recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, obtaining a distinction. She lives in Hove with her wife and son.
Kate can be found on Twitter
After getting to know Kate via my book club and then Twitter, she very kindly invited me to the book launch at Waterstones in Brighton. I took a friend for moral support and it was great evening – Kate was an entertaining speaker and answered questions from the audience well. I also chatted to Jo from Valley Press as I’m fascinated by the publishing process and she very kindly answered all my questions!
Beer at the event was provided by the Loud Shirt Brewing Company and we had another couple of drinks at The Western pub just around the corner.