First Love

Gwendoline Riley

Published: 2 February 2017
Hardback, B Format
129x198mm, 176 pages
ISBN: 9781783783182
£12.99

Other Editions

Paperback

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Published: 7 September 2017
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 176 pages
ISBN: 9781783783243
£8.99

Ebook Available

Overview

'A singular, devastating journey into the ungovernable reaches of the heart' Observer

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017

Neve is a writer in her mid-30s married to an older man, Edwyn. For now they are in a place of relative peace, but their past battles have left scars. As Neve recalls the decisions that led her to this marriage, she tells of other loves and other debts, from her bullying father and her self-involved mother to a musician who played her and a series of lonely flights from place to place.

Drawing the reader into the battleground of her relationship, Neve spins a story of helplessness and hostility, an ongoing conflict in which both husband and wife have played a part. But is this, nonetheless, also a story of love?


About the author


Reviews

‘[Filled] with moments of humour and tenderness’

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Reviews

‘[With] rich character depictions [...] Riley teases out a series of painful but exquisitely comedic episodes’ John Burnside

A book of extraordinary potency that does full justice to the appalling tangles into which the heart can lead us’ Stephanie Cross

A short but devastating sucker punch of a book’ Eleanor Franzen

As soon as I finished reading First Love, I wanted to start it all over again... A smart and refreshingly honest look at love, relationships and how our past never leaves us... the beauty is in the realityAnita Rani

Compelling from the beginning. In precise, economic prose Riley conveys a sense of Edwyn and Neve's intimate relationship... An engrossing novel and Riley's writing shines throughSusannah Butter

Devastating and stylishAlex Preston

Elegantly, beautifully written; Riley's prose is shimmering and luminous... First Love shows a writer at the very height of her powers, grappling and snaring her themes into a singular, devastating journey into the ungovernable reaches of the heartStuart Evers

Eviscerating, elegant, explosive... Riley's portraits are so nuanced that every character feels real, and she is funny and painfully true... Her vision is so expansive, her analysis so blistering, that First Love resonates a power that is bittersweet and highly affectingFrancesca Wade

Exceptionally good... an impossible little wonder of a book, terrifying and horrible... Take up the gauntlet with Gwendoline Riley: it's worth it’ Alex Clark

Exquisite... searing... [It] is a disquieting read [but] because Riley portrays Neve and Edwyn's relationship in such intimacy, we are also left with the stinging sense of having been loved... Five starsPhilly Malicka

Extremely well written, carved with a finely honed blade... A nominee for the 2017 Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, First Love is merciless and lean and, thank goodness, can be read in one uncomfortable sitting’

From Turgenev's First Love to Gwendoline Riley's is not so very far; the same panoptic, all-too-human lurches, afflictions and doubts, gorgeously exposed. Riley's artistry continues to signal the rueful need to narrate - yet the nobility of that impulse: undetermined, impetuous, diffident - just as we live and love - with heartbreak always in wait’ Alan Warner

Gwendoline Riley writes beautifully and memorably. First Love is evocative, often funny, and, towards the end, very moving’ David Szalay

Visceral... almost impossible to turn away fromAnthony Cummins

‘A book which unflinchingly explores toxic relationships... A beguiling novel’ Theresa Munoz

‘A brutal book and it will stay with you long after the hundred and sixty pages are over, but Riley manages to inject it with a thin vein of black humour’ Daniel Carpenter

‘A modern-day Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

‘An intimate, uncompromising anatomy of love and revulsion between husband and wife, child and parents, from a writer of singular vision

‘Caustic... unsparing, occasionally funny and always perceptive... Riley's brutal honesty and precise, evocative language open up the possibility of joy amid wreckage - with caveats... Luminous and dazzlingly brilliantNicole Flattery

‘Expect to read a forensic discussion of the ordinariness of life rendered bittersweet’ Elizabeth White

‘Gwendoline Riley [is] a fascinating novelist... She takes a familiar theme of midlife minor angst and focuses in, closer and closer, until the banal becomes surreal, even beautiful. The effect is beguiling... First Love is an exquisite and combative piece of news from nowhere - which is everywhere, tooJoanna Kavenna

‘Makes you question what love is... [Riley] should be on every literary lover's bookshelfSharmaine Lovegrove

‘Riley brings you up short with almost every spiky sentence in this stealthy, penetrating novel that recasts love as a dark, terrific puzzle, perhaps never to be solvedClaire Allfree

‘Riley writes in pared-back, deceptively light sentences that twist and turn the emotional landscape almost imperceptibly. Dialogue, too, is witheringly precise, often funny. First Love says something very honest about relationships’ Francesca Angelini

‘Riley's First Love maps the ins and outs of human emotion. It will dazzle you

‘Riley's descriptive powers [are] masterful... First Love is suffused with gems... Original and unforgettableViolet Hudson

‘This is, in a truly wonderful way, a perfectly horrible little novel... It is exact and exacting, [told] in pristine prose... Without giving away the ending, there is no simple ending... It is a plagal cadence, a wistful, imperfect resolution, a kind of blessing in its own way’ Stuart Kelly


Events

29/07/2017

Gwendoline Riley at Port Eliot Festival

Gwendoline Riley is the author of the novels Cold Water, Sick Notes, Joshua Spassky and Opposed Positions. Her writing has won a Betty Trask Award and a Somerset Maugham Award, and has been shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Her new novel, First Love, draws a compelling and intimate portrait of a relationship in crisis: Neve is a writer in her mid-30s married to an older man, Edwyn. For now they are in a place of relative peace, but their past battles have left scars. As Neve recalls the decisions that led her to this marriage, she tells of other loves and other debts, from her bullying father and her self-involved mother to a musician who played her and a series of lonely flights from place to place. Drawing the reader into the battleground of her relationship, Neve spins a story of helplessness and hostility, an ongoing conflict in which both husband and wife have played a part. But is this, nonetheless, also a story of love?
Cornwall, UK, Port Eliot, St Germans, Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 5ND
porteliotfestival.com





 
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