Culture Street


First Love by Gwendoline Riley

On March 10, 2017

By Sophia Whitfield

Riley’s novel is an intimate portrayal of the relationship between Neve and her older husband Edwyn.

Neve is a writer in her mid-30s with a past that haunts her. Her previous failed relationships have left their mark. Now married to Edwyn, Neve recalls the events that led to her marriage - her loves and dysfunctional family life.

Her father bullied her mother and her mother is vague and self- involved. Edwyn accuses Neve of mirroring her own parents’ marriage but Neve and Edwyn have their own particular form of dysfunction.

By the time Neve marries Edwyn she is content to have a roof over her head and a place to stay. But as the marriage develops so does the hostility towards each other.

Riley takes a close look at controlling relationships in her deeply affecting novel. Her lyrical writing is liberally sprinkled with humour. First Love is on the Bailey Women’s Prize for fiction and can be purchased here in Australia and here in the UK.

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