One of the things I'm trying to fit into my evenings is a bit of good fiction reading. I have come across a wonderful local Southwest UK author and blogger, Alienora Taylor, who has published her first ebook: Long Leggety Beasties. The story focuses on the secondary school English teacher Geraldine's (Gerri) first person narration of her experiences in her first teaching job in a small village in Cornwall. I've had my own (shortish) stint of state secondary school teaching when I lived in London and thought I'd find some common ground here. While the story feels different from mine there are many connections that I've found lots of pleasure in recognising. I'm still only just over half-way through the novel but my experience so far has been full of giggles and page-turning excitement about where this Gerri may take me next.
One of the things I'm enjoying is Taylor's absolute love of playful language, which her believable English teacher narrator captures so well. At no point does the witty writing style ever seem out of place from what the reader would expect from Gerri's voice. Without trying to give away too much, my other main pleasure are the moments of Gerri's wonderful confessions of alcoholic weakness where the cupboard that holds the gin and tonic is just too irresistible. Consider this long passage, Gerri's tale after she's had an English teacher's lesson from hell from her beloved fifth year bottom set class:
Soon after this, my flat fell through - both literally and metaphorically. It was a top floor flat and I'd long been fascinated by the promise of an attic apparently lurking above my bed. There was a trapdoor. Under normal circumstances, I would have left well alone. In recent days, however, I had become rather too familiar with the soothing qualities of alcohol.
So there I was, sloshing back the gin and crunching cashew nuts - an absolute MUST with any self-respecting G and T - when a sudden devilish thought tickled my mind. Explore the attic. It seemed so obvious at the time. My inner rebel was calling to me stridently. Naturally enough, I had no ladder, so had to improvise: the chest of drawers and a chair seemed to do the trick.
Up I went, pushed open the trap door, hoisted myself into the attic, tripped and fell through the bedroom ceiling. If I'd had any sense, I would have phone my landlady, claimed a tragic accident and the day could have possibly been saved.
But no: I was at that stage of drunkenness where bizarre ideas positively stream over one. Thus, the next logical step was for me to mend the hole - she'd never notice - with Sellotape.
I sat on the bed and surveyed the damage. The hole was bigger than it seemed at impact; it seemed to stretch for acres. I picked up the pieces and, with neck-cracking obstinacy, rammed them back into place, using yards of tape in the process.
The only positive thing I could say about the finished result was that you could no longer see straight into the attic.
Gerri's love of G and T lead to another scene in which she gets completely off of her head, strips off to then don a 50 pence charity shop bargain of a black lacey dress and heads over to the nearby field where a group of builders/all brothers, are living in a caravan. Curious about catching sight of the one on which she's developed a distant crush, she stumbles around peering in the windows only to be spotted by another.
The rest you will have to read yourself! And this joy of a first novel is now available as a free download, so what can you lose?
Have a look here for the free download and enjoy! Long Leggety Beasties, by Alienora Taylor.