Wednesday 19 February 2020

Don't Think A Single Thought by Diana Cambridge @DianaCambridge @LouiseWalters12 #DontThinkASingleThought

1960s New York, and Emma Bowden seems to have it all – a glamorous Manhattan apartment, a loving husband, and a successful writing career. But while Emma and her husband Jonathan are on vacation at the Hamptons, a child drowns in the sea, and suspicion falls on Emma. As her picture-perfect life spirals out of control, and old wounds resurface, a persistent and monotonous voice in Emma’s head threatens to destroy all that she has worked for... Taut, elegant and mesmerising, Don’t Think a Single Thought lays bare a marriage, and a woman, and examines the decisions – and mistakes – that shape all of our lives. Diana Cambridge is an award-winning journalist. She has written for many national newspapers and magazines, gives regular writing workshops, and is a Writer-in-Residence at Sherborne, Dorset. She is Agony Aunt to Writing Magazine. She lives in Bath. Don’t Think a Single Thought is her first novel.

Don't Think A Single Thought by Diana Cambridge was published by Louise Walters Books in August last year.

I set myself a goal a few months ago to buy at least one book per month from a small independent publisher. Don't Think A Single Thought was one of those purchases. It's not always easy to fit my purchased books into my reading schedule, but I will read them, and review them all.

Don't Think A Single Thought is a novella at just 190 pages and whilst it is a work of fiction, the author was inspired to write it by the life of Manhattan author Sue Kaufman, who died forty years ago. Sue Kaufman's 1967 novel Diary of a Mad Housewife was adapted for film in 1970.

Diana Cambridge is a fine and extremely talented author. This, her debut novel is remarkably assured, and despite the shortness in length, there is a strength to this story that is powerful.

Emma is married to a wealthy and successful surgeon, they live a life of glamour, with a flat in Manhattan and holidays in the Hamptons. However Emma struggles with life; her fragile mental state, including flashbacks to her troubled childhood overpowers everything that she does. She's not a failure herself; having written a much acclaimed novel, yet her self-doubt and insecurity stops her from enjoying any success and casts a shadow upon her marriage.

The reader is only privy to Emma's own thoughts as the story is told totally from her point of view. This could feel flat, but in fact, adds a dimension of tension and suspicion to the narrative. It becomes clear that Emma is far from a reliable narrator, and the reader must judge carefully when listening to her voice.

One of the author's greatest skills is that she's conveyed every single one of Emma's increasingly troubled emotions so well, yet she doesn't write in the first person. The reader begins to feel voyeuristic, as though we really shouldn't be there. Emma's rawest of moments are so beautifully detailed, yet somehow, there is also a distance ... Emma often appears cold and quite heartless, but peel away at her many layers and an often frightened, confused and incredibly complex woman appears.

Set during one of my favourite periods; the 1960s, through to the 70s, the author's sense of place is intense. The glamour and glitz of the upper classes; the food, fashion and conversations of the highly privileged and quite self-absorbed characters within the book are refreshing, despite their obvious show of superiority and certainty of their special rights. The reader also meets some of the less fortunate too, as Emma recounts her early years and then meets up with her estranged sister later in the story. The absolute contrast between the high-living Hamptons and the trailer parks of the disadvantaged is so very well described, and adds yet another layer to the story.

Beautifully and compassionately written, Don't Think A Single Thought is an excellent depiction of flawed character and someone hiding within plain sight. Exquiste and a joy to read.

"Strange and bewitching" The Lady magazine
"Immersive, gripping... A well-crafted, slow burn story of a talented woman haunted by the conflicts of emotion and ambition – and by her own imagination" Jay Merrick, author of Horse Latitudes
"A chilling page turner set in the playgrounds of the New York rich and famous, where a wealthy doctor's wife is driven to the brink of madness by a horrific childhood memory" Sharon Churcher, author of New York Confidential
"This slim, elegant novel is a delight" Gail Aldwin, author of  The String Games

Diana lives in Bath. She is a journalist, tutor, editor, radio presenter, and Agony Aunt to Writing Magazine.
Her debut novel Don't Think a Single Thought was published on 26th September 2019. 
Diana tweets @DianaCambridge

Diana's favourite novel is The Magus by John Fowles, and her favourite novella is The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark. Her top poet is Philip Larkin.

No comments:

Post a Comment