“I was once snugged up tight within a God-fearing community in a land where the light roared and sea hurt. But here I am now, out from under the thumb of Him and in a land where the sky is so low it almost brushes the rooftops. Here I am with you, my little tummy-tucked astronaut, and with all these whisperings back in that community that I’ve killed a six foot two man.”
Lovesong is Nikki Gemmell’s third and latest book.
It is the story of Lillie Bird, a woman from a locked religious community who one day finds herself in the freedom of a strange new world, England, accused of murdering a man.
But it was here, in this land of cold, dark skies and scuffed and tumbling streets, that she had first found the pleasure and the sadness, and the love, she had for years so desperately sought.
Lovesong is at once a celebration of the human spirit and a powerful story of exile, identity and love. Mesmerising and heartbreaking, this is Nikki Gemmell’s finest work.
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Inspiration for the novel
Lovesong completes my trilogy about women in tough places. I wanted to write a contemporary story about a woman who’s trapped in some way, a love story that’d hit readers in the guts. It’s presented as a crime novel, but I guess I wanted to write a book that would affect people in a similar way to how I’d felt after watching films like “The Piano” and “Breaking the Waves.”
Once again, landscape is almost a character. I begin with an extremely strict religious community that’s high up in the mountains, a place scraped by the wind and the sun. It’s a farming community controlled with an iron fist and rarely encroached upon by the twenty first century. The men are long-bearded, the women long-skirted. The only book to be read is the bible.
The two young protaganists, Lillie Bird and Dan Macguire, eventually find themselves in England.
They’ve never seen such a place, never walked through such a cram of people. The sky’s so low it almost touches the rooftops, the light licks them instead of bashing them, the air roars. But they soon dive into this new world and grab it complete. They discover in London the delight of double beds, skin, icecream, sex – and they fall deeply in love. But it’s difficult to escape the past. Lillie and Dan carry a secret from their old community that explains why they’re in England and it threatens to destroy them both.
I wanted Lovesong to be sexy, compelling, heartbreaking, a novel that celebrates love. I also wanted to mint a language of my own if I could, to make it a novel-length song with its own rhythm and beauty. It went through sixty drafts and took me three years to write, and I almost collapsed with exhaustion after completing it. I don’t think I could ever write with that intensity again.