Rosie Alison, the Orange prize nominee no one has reviewed
Rosie Alison’s debut novel was published in June. Like Hilary Mantel’s 10th novel, Barbara Kingsolver’s sixth, Andrea Levy’s fifth, and 16 other works of fiction by women authors from around the world, it has just been longlisted for this year’s Orange prize. Unlike them, however, it has not thus far been deemed worthy of review by a single British national newspaper.
“I was actually relieved,” Alison says. “I had a slight terror of some poor reviewer with far too much to read picking it up and looking for a quick putdown. It’s a very heartfelt book and if you don’t tune into its emotional frequencies, it would be very easy for a cynic to write it off in a few dismissive lines.”
Instead, Alison, who works in television and film production, says she is “quietly delighted” that The Very Thought of You – an adult love story framed by the more unusual narrative of a small girl evacuated to a grand country house during the second world war – has been picked up on Amazon’s list of Rising Stars, and “amazed” by the 50-plus thoughtful and largely favourable reviews she has had on the online bookseller’s site from actual readers. Then there is “the lovely man at Foyles who is really championing it – he keeps putting it in the front of his displays” – and the nominations for RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2010, and the Le Prince Maurice prize for Literary Love Stories.
“What’s difficult,” she says, “is when there’s a huge buzz about a book, and then it gets shot down in the press. Far better to begin quietly, and let it lead its own life.”