Friday, 19 July 2013

Tilly Lake's Road Trip by Francis Potts

There is something very endearing about this book. It's not exactly true to life, the people in it are far too open and kind to each other, but in this case I don't think that matters.

I have to warn you, it is slightly erotic but in a very mild way. There are no rampant bed scenes, more a slight whisper of suggestion, but there is a fixation on the female chest area which you could compare to looking at an oil painting of a few hundred years ago.

Tilly, the main character, is at work when she learns of her husband's death. They had been married for decades and reached the stage of comfortable companionship and deep love. She learns he died in the arms of another woman but takes this news exceptionally well and with curiosity more than anything else as she knew he had the odd liaison and was happy he was content. This is about the stage in the novel where I would imagine most women, including myself, would look at Tilly and raise an eyebrow at her apparent lack of self worth but there is more to this story than what is right or wrong, it is purely about what is.

Tilly finds herself comfortably off financially and decides to go on a road trip. She buys a large classic car, hires a driver from outside the local job centre, leaves the house in the care of her husband's mistress, (Anka, a homeless immigrant from Russia) and embarks on the road trip she dreamt of as a child with her handsome Prince Charming who is more than happy to wear her pink pyjamas. They travel together around Britain, meeting people along the way who could be likened to the flower children of the 1970's for their openness and welcoming nature. However, it isn't drug use which makes the people they meet so open minded, it is love.

Francis Pott's has stripped away reserve and replaced it with a total acceptance and need for physical human contact. He has taken a woman who didn't enjoy sexual contact with her husband, her only lover, and has given her the ultimate comfort, a physical journey of healing where touch and kisses from people she meets are as acceptable as a sympathy card on the mantelpiece.

Tilly rescues everyone who needs it. Even her husband's mistress. She went from a woman I wanted to shake to a woman I began to understand. This story is almost feminist in the telling but written by a man. Interesting.

Well written, emotional, heart warming yet slightly dreamlike and, if you can see past the first layer to what's underneath, rather like a beautiful oil painting.

Twitter: @fpotts


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