Louise Levene has been a journalist and critic on national newspapers for the last twenty years. She was born and brought up in London and spent the late 1960s tucked out of sight in the corners of West End bars being fed orange squash and cheese footballs and eavesdropping on grown-up conversation. After many years as the ballet critic for the Telegraph, Louise is now writing for the Financial Times. Interests? Ballet, contemporary dance, gardening, fancy knitting, yoga, skiing, sailing, earrings… She has a PhD in English language, speaks useful French and Spanish and a decorative sprinkling of German and Italian. She has two teenage children. Her three previous novels were all published by Bloomsbury: A VISION OF LOVELINESS (2010), which featured as Radio 4's 'Book at Bedtime', GHASTLY BUSINESS (2011), and THE FOLLOWING GIRLS (2014).
Her new novel, HAPPY LITTLE BLUEBIRDS, will be published by Bloomsbury in March 2018.
Praise for GHASTLY BUSINESS (2011):
'Levene’s prose is so fresh, so enjoyable that you can’t help reading snippets out loud' Daily Telegraph
Praise for A VISION OF LOVELINESS (2010):
'I raced through A Vision of Loveliness, taking great delight in its sharply resurrected period detail... It's a delight - funny, sad and clever' Barbara Trapido
'This is biting social satire... Levene has a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue' Guardian
'A Vision of Loveliness is a pointed indictment of a sexist, small-minded society' Telegraph
When Amanda Baker was 14 she found a letter written by her runaway mother to her unborn child: 'Dear Jeremy' it began 'or Amanda...'
Mrs Baker still sends Christmas presents - Meccano, a fishing rod, a Spare Rib subscription - but her daughter is now in the coolly capable hands of Mr Baker's second wife, Pam, who trots home from work on her stacked heels to her formica 'dream kitchen', where she curls butter, grills grapefruit and swigs sherry from the bottle hidden under the sink. Meanwhile Amanda's dad, soured by his experiences with free-spirited women, crossbreeds fuchsias and salivates over glossy prospectuses in search of a new school for his disappointing daughter.
The happiest days of your life? Not for Baker, sixteen and sick of it as she moves miserably between lessons packed with palm fibre and the use of the dative. Baker's only solace is her fifth form gang - the four Mandies - and a low-calorie diet of king-sized cigarettes, until she teams up with Julia Smith, games captain and consummate game player. And so begins a passionate friendship that will threaten her future, menace her sanity and risk the betrayal of everything and everyone she holds dear.
The Following Girls weaves the minutiae of Seventies girlhood into an unsparing tragi-comedy of shrinking horizons, dangerous alliances and not-so-happy families.
Ghastly Business conjures the world of interwar London with gleeful vigour: a time when a woman’s body was only mentioned if someone had dismembered it; when the scars of the Great War were still fresh and when a pretty young bluestocking needed to tread very carefully in order to avoid becoming yet another of its casualties. A Vision of Loveliness, covered the heady days of the 1960s, with Ghastly Business Levene turns her eyes towards the year 1929, and the office of an eminent London pathologist.
Jane is a smart young thing in early-Sixties London. She read all the right books and, in one long weekend, launches herself from nothing-ever-happens Norbury to a nice little flat in Mayfair. But when a shocking act of violence threatens to bring Jane's glittering new life crashing down around her she must call on all her powers of reinvention.