Wendy Perriam has been writing since the age of five, completing her first ‘novel’ at eleven. Expelled from boarding school for heresy, she escaped to Oxford, where she read History and also trod the boards. She now divides her time between teaching and writing.
Her sixteen novels and seven short-story collections boldly mix sex, religion and humour, and have been acclaimed for their psychological insight and their power to disturb, divert and shock.
Perriam feels that her many conflicting life experiences – strict convent-school discipline and swinging-sixties’ wildness, marriage and divorce, infertility and motherhood – have shaped her as a writer. ‘Writing allows for shadow-selves. I’m both the staid conformist matron and the slag; the well-organized author toiling at her desk and the madwoman shrieking in a straitjacket.’
An Enormous Yes by Wendy Perriam
Three generations of women, all with very different ideas as to what constitutes the good life. For Hanna, 95, it’s always been based on duty, piety, and service to others, but for her granddaughter, Amy, it means wealth success and status. Amy’s mother, Maria, is more ambivalent; attracted by both Hanna’s high ideals and by the new hedonistic lifestyle she encounters when, after the death of her mother, she moves from Hanna’s shabby Northumberland cottage to Amy’s stylish London home.
After 39 years of celibacy, her second self – a wild sensualist-in-waiting – is awakened by the passionate artist, Felix, who also encourages her long-dormant artistic talents. But should she say ‘an enormous yes’ to a new life of sexual and artistic self-fulfilment, or follow her mother’s example and devote herself to Amy, now pregnant with her first child?
An Enormous Yes poses fundamental questions about what constitutes living well, and the choices we are forced to make between wants and needs, ideals and rights; exploring the conflicting claims of entitlement versus duty and responsibility. It pits our image-based, celebrity-obsessed culture against more enduring values, and, in chronicling a passionate relationship between two people in their sixties, challenges society’s myth that sex is only for the young.
Perriam’s powerful and life-affirming new novel combines some of today’s most controversial issues with all the exuberance and sexual daring that have made her name.