Natasha Walter

Add to shortlist
Natasha Walter

Books

Associate: Seren Adams

Books

Natasha Walter is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, a journalist and human rights activist. 

She is a graduate of Cambridge and Harvard, and has worked as a columnist, reviewer and feature writer for the Guardian, Vogue and the Independent. Natasha is currently the director of the charity Women for Refugee Women, which she founded in 2007, which supports women seeking asylum and challenges the injustices they experience.

Her first book, THE NEW FEMINISM (Virago), was published in 1998. In 2010 she published LIVING DOLLS: THE RETURN OF SEXISM (also Virago), which examines the resurgence of sexism in contemporary culture.

Her first novel, A QUIET LIFE, is loosely based on the life of Melinda Marling, the wife of Cambridge spy Donald Maclean, and was published by Borough Press in 2016.

She has been a judge on the Booker Prize and the Women's Prize for fiction. 

In 2015 Natasha was Humanitas Visiting Professor of Women's Rights at Cambridge University. 

Natasha is currently working on a new book about female solidarity, SISTERS ACT, which will be published by Virago.  

 

Praise for A QUIET LIFE (2016):

‘As well as having a gift for cool, elegant phrasing, and a fine sensitivity to psychology reminiscent of Elizabeth Jane Howard, Walter proves to be a hardworking and accomplished storyteller… [She] is terrific, too, at capturing the tense, bleached-out dreariness of the cold war in London and Washington, easily competing with the claims of such experienced novelists as Sebastian Faulks and William Boyd to the territory, and bringing to it a unique perspective that resonates long after the novel is laid down’ Guardian

‘Fans of spy fiction have been waiting a long time for a top-quality female-centred thriller… [A Quiet Life is] a globetrotting adventure of coded messages, secret cameras and exchanged passwords with strangers on the street. Historical details add convincing colour, as Laura dashes between air-raid shelters, plush hotels, Edward’s country pile, and Washington and Geneva… It is in the detail of Laura’s anxiety over performing womanhood correctly that Walter will steal the hearts of her female readers… On the agony and delight of motherhood, the secret awfulness of pregnancy and dinner parties, and the morphing of young love into an old habit, Walter shows herself to be a writer of game-changing skill and sensitivity. Few novelists can combine serious feminism with romance and adventure and make it work… Moreover, [Walter] knows how to write a literary page-turner with quite a lot of sex that is never embarrassing. If Jane Smiley wrote Smiley’s People, it still wouldn’t be as good as this’ Melissa Katsoulis, The Times

It was with a huge dose of awe that I became acquainted with the double life of Laura Last in Natasha Walter’s whirlwind of a debut novel A Quiet Life… this [is a] thrilling tale of sacrifice, love, secrets and identity…Walter’s Laura leaps off the page and pulls you into her underworld. And while other characters are left in the dark, as readers we’re in on it and it’s brilliant. Turns out, A Quiet Life is too good a secret to keep to myself’ Stylist ****

‘On the thriller scale, this sits at the spy fiction end, but it’s too good not to recommend. Inspired by the story of Melinda Marling, the wife of Cambridge spy Donald Maclean who leaked secrets about the development of atomic bomb to the Soviet Union, all the while he was British diplomat in Washington. No on ever suspected that Melinda might be complicit. But unlike, Melinda, Natasha’s protagonist Laura is a fully-fledged spy’ Vogue, ‘Best Thrillers of 2016’

‘An utterly fascinating novel which gives an entirely new perspective of the WWII time period. It’s a wholly immersive and wonderful read about a compelling character’ Lonesome Reader, ‘Best Books of 2016’

 

Non-Fiction

Publication DetailsNotes
1999

Virago

Where has British feminism gone? Has it retreated into the academy, did it burn out at Greenham Common, has it emigrated to the United States? Natasha Walter discovers that there is a new feminism right here and now in Britain. It is alive and kicking and speaking in the voices of young British women. In defining this new feminism, Natasha Walter celebrates women's growing power, casts aside the dogma of previous generations, and argues that the old adage 'The Personal is Political' does more harm than good. Because above all, this new feminism is frankly materialist. Who cares about how women dress, how they talk, how they make love? First, feminism must deliver political power and economic equality.

With tremendous wit, verve and intelligence, THE NEW FEMINISM marks out fresh ground in feminist debate.

2010

World Rights: Virago

Empowerment, liberation, choice. Once the watchwords of feminism, these terms have now been co-opted by a society that sells women an airbrushed, highly sexualized and increasingly narrow vision of femininity. While the opportunities available to women may have expanded, the ambitions of many young girls are in reality limited by a culture that asks them to see consumerism and self-decoration as their only proper occupations, and their bodies as their only passport to success. At the same time we are encouraged to believe that the inequality we observe all around us is born of innate biological differences rather than social factors.

Drawing on a wealth of research and personal interviews, the author of THE NEW FEMINISM and one of Britain's most incisive cultural commentators gives us a straight-talking, passionate and important book that makes us look afresh at women and girls, at sexism and femininity - today.

Fiction

Publication DetailsNotes
2016

The Borough Press

Wife.
Mother.
Spy.

A double life is no life at all.

Since the disappearance of her husband in 1951, Laura Leverett has been living in limbo with her daughter in Geneva. All others see is her conventional, charming exterior; nobody guesses the secret she is carrying.

Her double life began years ago, when she stepped on to the boat which carried her across the Atlantic in 1939. Eager to learn, and eager to love, she found herself suddenly inspired by a young Communist woman she met on the boat. In London she begins to move between two different worlds – from the urbane society of her cousins and their upper class friends, to the anger of those who want to forge a new society. One night at a party she meets a man who seems to her to combine both worlds, but who is hiding a secret bigger than she could ever imagine.

Impelled by desire, she finds herself caught up in his hidden life. Love grows, but so do fear and danger. This is the warm-blooded story of the Cold War. The story of a wife whose part will take her from London in the Blitz, to Washington at the height of McCarthyism, to the possible haven of the English countryside. Gradually she learns what is at stake for herself, her husband, and her daughter; gradually she realises the dark consequences of her youthful idealism.

Sweeping and exhilarating, alive with passion and betrayal, A Quiet Life is the first novel from a brilliant new voice in British fiction.