Genevieve Gaunt

The sleepless lives of great writers

To sleep or not to sleep – that is the question the French writer Marie Darrieussecq asks in her latest book, which explores the insomnia that has haunted her for 20 years since the birth of her first child. From that date, she writes, it ‘has attached itself to me like a small ghost’. Darrieussecq

Macabre allegories: No Love Lost, by Rachel Ingalls, reviewed

Rachel Ingalls might just be the best writer of the late 20th century you’ve never heard of. Born in Boston in 1940 (her father was a professor of Sanskrit at Harvard), Ingalls dropped out of school and studied in Germany before winning a place at Radcliffe College. Shakespeare’s quadricentennial drew her to London and in

Neo-gothic horror: Strega, by Johanne Lykke Holm

In Johanne Lykke Holm’s neo-gothic novel Strega, Rafaela, claustrophobic in her parents’ ‘yellow’ and ‘dusty’ flat, dreams of working as a maid at the mountain-nestled Olympic Hotel. She luxuriates in a bath with a brochure, mesmerised by photographs of ‘girls in pearl-white aprons, girls eating ruby-red apples straight from the tree’. It’s a foreshadowing of

A family scandal straight out of a Hollywood film noir

In 1973, in White Plains, New York, Donna Freed was told, in a ‘shroud of shame’ and without any soothing explanations, that she was adopted. The six-year-old’s life was plunged into a dark hinterland of anxiety. Freed spent the next 38 years fearful that the discovery of her birth mother would reveal ‘a terrible or

The misery memoir of a devoted polyamorist

The rules of sex can kill. In 1844 an angry mob shot Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, for his polygamous ways. But in the counterculture today, polyamorists face less of a physical threat and more of a metaphysical one, as chronicled by the journalist Rachel Krantz in her tortured book Open: An Uncensored Memoir