Marguerite Valentine

Marguerite Valentine

Books for the Psychologically Minded


Bristol author Marguerite Valentine’s new novel Echo documents a young girl’s transition from troubled adolescence to adulthood in uncompromising detail. Stylistically, meanwhile, the book seamlessly melds realism and magical realism.

Marguerite took time out of her busy schedule to talk to Bristol/24! 7 – starting with her influences and background and when she began to write.

“Thinking about influences on my writing, I realised fairly early on that for many, life is tough, usually because they’ve been dealt a bad hand of cards – but it’s how they play those cards that’s of interest to me. My work and background in sociology has helped to make sense of that, as well as having lived in London and visited some of the more remote parts of the UK.

As a child Marguerite was an avid reader, sometimes changing library books twice in one day. “The stories I read, the places I’ve lived in, and the people I’ve met live on in my imagination, and these thoughts and experiences are the basis for my novels. I’ve always loved writing. At first I wrote academic papers on psychology, eventually moving onto film analysis and from there, I began writing fiction. Stories bring everything together – people, places, events – but, more excitingly, I can go with my characters wherever the story takes me.”

Echo has been described as a book for young people. Did Marguerite write it for a target audience? “As a therapist and ex-childcare social worker I’ve realised that how some young women see the world is often misunderstood. I wanted to write something from their point of view, to show how their feelings, aims and mistakes are often linked with earlier experiences. Echo is an anti-hero but she’s a sympathetic character, and one I hope that the reader will like and feel warmth towards. My target audience is anyone interested in how and why young people develop the way they do.”

The novel also examines the importance of a strong, positive father f1gure in the development of strong young women – and, conversely, the negative effects of abusive therapist-client relationships. “In Western society, the father-daughter relationship is not seen as fundamental as is the mother’s role. Yet he contributes from a different perspective to who she is, her femininity, her dreams and desires. In my novel, both Echo and Ivan struggle to come to terms with not knowing their father and Gareth’s role in the story is important here. He represents the good father, the one who sees through Echo’s attempts to seduce him to the desperation that lies underneath.

“JF [the novel’s therapist] is a maverick- but the sexual and emotional exploitation of clients does go on. I would hope it’s rare. It’s certainly something that training organisations are aware of, which is why therapists are supervised closely during training and after they’ve qualified.”

And what does the future hold for Marguerite I’m working on a sequel to my f1rst novel, Between the Shadow and the Soul. The main character is an undercover agent employed by a private security f1rm to infiltrate an environmental pressure group. It just so happens he’s the baby now grown up, the one Flori stole in that story.

“The story begins during the 2008 financial crisis and brings together the personal and political in a much starker way than my previous work. But it’s all part of ongoing quest to understand what motivates people, how this influences their lives – and how they might change.”

Lou Trimby – Bristol 24/7



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