Topics of Conversation, by Miranda Popkey presents a series of moments in one woman’s life – from her student days, to marriage, to single motherhood. These different snapshots of her life read almost as a series of short stories, following chronologically through her life.
These experiences of life as a woman are varied – free; oppressive; lonely; humorous. There are some stories where the emotions are so affronting, they will stick in my mind for a long time. In one that particularly that fits this description, the narrator deliberately seeks escape from her stale marriage through a one night stand in a hotel. Here she confronts the complex dynamics of casual sexual relationships and the expected gendered roles.
But as the stories unfold, it becomes clear it isn’t so much the events that happen to this woman that matter, but what they mean to her, as she attempts to make her life make sense. Too often, we are told what our lives as women should be – how we should look, how we should love and of course: how we can ‘have it all’. This novel confronts and unravels these ideas, by selfconciously reflecting that what matters is instead about the stories we make from our lives – the stories we tell ourselves and others.
The title Topics of Conversation made me think of the line we draw between the polite conversation we make on a daily basis, and our inner desires, purpose and fears, running fervently underneath. Sometimes we dare express these to ourselves, or to others – more often than not, these are unique moments with clarity and a raw honesty, and these are the moments we are invited into in this book.
Topics of Conversation has just published with Serpents Tail, on 27th February. I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes reading about the lives of women and books with interesting formats!
Sophie @Sophie_Jo_Books 📚🐾