The next book to be featured on the Zoe Ball Radio 2 Book Club will be Other Women, the sensational new novel from Women’s Prize longlisted author Emma Flint. The book is released on 23 February and Emma will be on the show with Zoe on Tuesday 7 March.
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We have an exclusive extract available for you to read.
Six years after the end of the Great War, the country is still in mourning. Thousands of husbands, fathers, sons and sweethearts were lost forever, and the sea of women they left behind must carry on without them.
But Beatrice Cade is not a wife, not a widow, not a mother. There are thousands of other women like her: nameless and invisible. Determined to carve out a richer and more fulfilling life for herself, Bea takes a job in the City and a room in a Bloomsbury ladies’ club. Then a fleeting encounter changes everything. Her emerging independence is destroyed when she falls in love for the first time.
Kate Ryan is a wife, a mother, and an accomplished liar. She has managed to build an enviable life with her husband and young daughter. To anyone looking in from the outside, they seem like a normal, happy family.
On the south coast of England, an anguished moment between lovers becomes a horrific murder. And two women who should never have met are connected forever.
A devastating story of fantasy, obsession, and ultimately the lengths we will go to in order to save the ones we love.
Selection panel review
The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Our readers loved Other Women – here are some of their comments:
“I liked the period detail in the book. It appears authentic, with the petty details of office life, and renting rooms in clubs and from frosty landladies. At the distance of a century, much has changed, and the setting clearly places the action at that time. The story is mainly that of the mistress and the wife, told in their alternating voices. The man at the centre is seen through them. Life for single women in the inter-war period was challenging, and there were lots of ‘spare’ women. Bea is one of those women, and I felt both the opening-up of her world, alongside the real limitations of the time for all women. Finally free to live her own life, she dares to allow her heart to rule. It’s clear to the reader from the start that Tom is not to be trusted, and likely a womaniser, but Bea is naïve and only sees what she wants to see. The excitement and romance of a secret love quickly fills the spaces in her life and her imagination does the rest. The view of the wife, Kate, is one that builds a picture of loyalty to a man who has caused much trouble and pain. A charming man who, we learn over the course of the book, has been involved with many women. We see her life at work, as a mother, and as a wife. The author does a good job of depicting the gradual chipping away of her security and exposure of her life when events lead to a court case of the kind tabloid newspapers cannot resist. Eventually her loyalty to her husband is brought to breaking point, as she fights to save what is left for herself and her daughter. This is a work of fiction that is based on a true ‘love-triangle’ murder case from 1923. There is no doubt about the outcome of the case, but it’s a gripping read, nevertheless.”
“Loosely based on a real murder this novel is set in 1920s London. It is told by two women, Bea and Kate, and has two timelines. Bea is one of the many women at that time, after the First World War, who work in an office for a low wage and live in a hostel with other women and no real expectations that anything will change. But then, when a new employee, Thomas Ryan, joins the firm as a buyer she is flattered by his attention and falls in love with him, despite knowing that he is married to Kate who also works for the company in a regional office. When someone is murdered suspicion immediately falls on him, he is charged with murder and the trial ensues. This is a story of love and obsession and I enjoyed it and found it interesting.”
“I really enjoyed this book and read in one sitting! It was really engaging and the story drew me in from the first page. The story was set in England in the 1920s and was based on a true crime. I got a real sense of its place in history – the country was still in the shadow of the war and mourning for its lost men. I thought the three main characters were well drawn. I felt angry at the way the women were let down by the legal profession, the media, the public. The story stayed with me after I’d finished it and made me want to look up the true story it was based on.”
“I loved this book, I couldn’t put it down. I found it extremely engaging and I really liked the fact that it was inspired by a true crime story. I found it very interesting how the author describes what life was like for women in the early 1920s. I enjoyed the narrative and the way the story was told by the two different women; the wife’s narrative especially gripped me and I thought it was very clever the way the author told the story from her point of view in the second half of the book. The writing flowed perfectly between the two characters giving a sense of intrigue with each chapter. The connection between the two women was very heart felt and I loved the unlikely heroine aspect of the plot.”
About the author
Emma Flint was born and grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne. She graduated from the University of St Andrews with an MA in English Language and Literature, and later completed a novel-writing course at the Faber Academy. She lives and works in London.
Since childhood, she has been drawn to true-crime stories, developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of real-life murder cases from the early twentieth century. Her first novel, Little Deaths, was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, for the Desmond Elliott Prize, for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award, and for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. Other Women is her second novel.
A word from Emma
“I was over the moon to hear The Reading Agency and the Radio 2 Book Club had chosen Other Women for discussion. I’m deeply grateful to have this kind of support, and particularly delighted that it was librarians and readers who chose the book.
Libraries have been important to me my whole life, and some of my favourite reading – and writing – memories involve libraries. My parents took me to our local library every Saturday when I was young: even now, the smoked-cheese smell of a cork noticeboard takes me back to standing by the library desk, balancing the weight of a pile of books in my arms, eager to get home and lose myself in a different world.
The continued existence of libraries in our modern world seems like a miracle to me. We must protect what they offer: access to centuries of knowledge, to different cultures, different histories, different ways of thinking and expressing ideas. Just as important as what they offer is what they represent: escape, quiet contemplation, and the importance of telling stories.
Other Women was researched and written in libraries around London, and some the most joyful moments of its creation took place in libraries. It’s a privilege to have been chosen by librarians and readers, and to be able to say thank you.”
Tune in to the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show to hear the live feature on Tuesday 7 March. You will also be able to listen to the full-length interview on BBC Sounds.
Have you read Other Women or Little Deaths?
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