Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: After My Own Heart by Sophia Blackwell

by Sophia Blackwell

Published by Lime House Books

Reviewed by Eric Karl Anderson

Evie Day is a woman in her late twenties who feels like she should be settling down. She has a steady job in public relations and lives with her girlfriend Kate. Independent, proudly queer and slowly making a name for herself as a guitarist/singer she seems settled. Things become unhinged when Evie and Kate accompany their friend to a motivational group that tries to help people find their path in life. The group which is supposed to be inspirational ironically makes Kate break down and later on she admits she’s been having an affair. The couple separate and Evie struggles to overcome her heartbreak and get back on her feet. She meets a beautiful and charismatic burlesque artist and becomes reacquainted with a handsome old friend named Roshan. Desiring both, Evie struggles to figure out who she really wants to be with. Over the course of a difficult year she learns that it’s not necessarily her own misfortunes or sexual confusion which are stopping her from progressing in life the way she wants to. She’s been suppressing feelings of inadequacy largely carried over from childhood and the breakup of her eccentric parents’ marriage. Only when she develops self confidence and security in herself can she begin to build a more stable life.

Sophia Blackwell has written an engaging and meaningful novel that anyone who has ever struggled to find their feet in life will be able to relate to. Set against the backdrop recognizable London scenes, the author writes about the vicissitudes of daily life and the agonizing state of heartache with admirable skill. She excels at depicting small instances of injustice that queer people experience in everyday situations – not necessarily outright homophobia but the niggling assumptions and attitudes of some straight people. A happily married woman Evie meets at a wedding party insists she ought to settle down to be happy. At her job she’s put in the position of promoting a homophobic rapper. Evie is a character who defiantly asserts her opinions as a queer sexually active woman. She states, “People think men are the only ones who can’t resist sex. People are wrong.” This includes a fluid attitude towards sexuality and how labelling one’s sexuality can also be a kind of trap. At one point Evie reflects, “One thing my friends and I all agreed on back then was just how flexible we were about our sexualities, when really we clung to them like life floats.” She trods upon shaky ground with some of her lesbian friends when she begins sleeping with a man. This doesn’t mean she’s not gay. She follows her heart and goes with who she desires. It just takes some time to understand what she really wants. Sophia Blackwell is an established performer and poet who has written an assured debut novel that is a pleasure to read.

Watch an interview with the author here:

After My Own Heart by Sophia Blackwell from Limehouse Books on Vimeo.

Eric Karl Anderson is author of the novel Enough and has published work in various publications such as The Ontario Review, Velvet Mafia, Ganymede Stories One and the anthologies From Boys to Men, Between Men 2 and 50 Gay and Lesbian Books Everyone Must Read.



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