Author(s): Louise Levene
When Amanda Baker was 14 she found a letter written by her runaway mother to her unborn child: 'Dear Jeremy' it began 'or Amanda...' Mrs Baker still sends Christmas presents - Meccano, a fishing rod, a Spare Rib subscription - but her daughter is now in the coolly capable hands of Mr Baker's second wife, Pam, who trots home from work on her stacked heels to her formica 'dream kitchen', where she curls butter, grills grapefruit and swigs sherry from the bottle hidden under the sink. Meanwhile Amanda's dad, soured by his experiences with free-spirited women, crossbreeds fuchsias and salivates over glossy prospectuses in search of a new school for his disappointing daughter. The happiest days of your life? Not for Baker, sixteen and sick of it as she moves miserably between lessons packed with palm fibre and the use of the dative. Baker's only solace is her fifth form gang - the four Mandies - and a low-calorie diet of king-sized cigarettes, until she teams up with Julia Smith, games captain and consummate game player. And so begins a passionate friendship that will threaten her future, menace her sanity and risk the betrayal of everything and everyone she holds dear.
The Following Girls weaves the minutiae of Seventies girlhood into an unsparing tragi-comedy of shrinking horizons, dangerous alliances and not-so-happy families.
For fans of An Education and My Summer of Love -- a powerful and biting social satire about a girl struggling to find freedom in 1970s suburbia
She writes with such energy and panache that I found myself screaming with laughter ... Her characters are a delight [and] she gets the period beautifully right, so that one is all the time aware of the serious intent behind all the gruesome fun Barbara Trapido Louise Levene is a zesty storyteller and a master of the needle-sharp one-liner Daily Telegraph Deliciously dark Sunday Express on Ghastly Business [A] dark comedy that reveals the seedy underbelly of London in the 1960s ... A winning debut by Levene that's rich with period detail and packs a punch Marie Claire on A Vision of Loveliness
Louise Levene is the author of A Vision of Loveliness, a BBC Book at Bedtime, which was also longlisted for the Desmond Elliott first novel prize, and Ghastly Business. She has been the dance critic of the Sunday Telegraph since 1998 but has also been an advertising copywriter, a window dresser, a radio presenter, an office cleaner, a crossword editor, a university tutor, a college professor and a saleslady. She lives in London with her husband and their two children.