1080x1080_VoiceinmyEar“Leviston is so skilled at noticing and cataloguing the emotional abrasion of being a daughter, the toll of motherhood (“You try believing you’re worth a damn when every time you open your mouth they roll their eyes at you”) and love’s ability to wound, that reading her book can be a painful and even oppressive experience. But these responses are matched, and exceeded, by the admiration, excitement and exhilaration provoked by what she achieves on the page.”

Chris Power reviews The Voice in My Ear for The Sunday Times

Puppets“…Nowhere is the line between help and harm thinner than in two perturbing stories that tip over into something akin to horror: in one, a babysitting experience turns sour, while in the spine-chilling “Muster’s Puppets”, a jaded mother and B&B owner finds herself in a waking nightmare involving murderous puppets.”

Lucy Scholes, review in the i

gettyimages-72568271“At first, these Claires seem strikingly different: the first Claire we meet is a newsreader with shiny hair, the next a university graduate back at home, preparing for a cousin’s wedding at which she is “not maid of honour, not even a bridesmaid”, trying to sew herself a dress that will “upstage the bridal gown without appearing to do so”. But similarities begin to appear: Claire is often an academic, or a humanities student; often anxious about her interpersonal relationships. There are affairs between a schoolgirl-aged Claire and her teacher, seemingly accepted by her mother. One story about a Claire who reads English at an Oxbridge-like university ends with her at “the Union” surrounded by “black tie and coke”, the next begins with a Claire “studying art history as a pretext for drinking too much” and, when she could afford it, taking cocaine in the “Union bar” – but stark distinctions soon become apparent, too. And there are surprises: in one story, a refreshingly straightforward, unburdened character is revealed to be a robot.”

Anna Leskiewicz reviews The Voice in My Ear in the New Statesman

5575“[O]ne of the many triumphs of this original, peculiarly truthful book is to leave us questioning what kindness is and what care is, no longer able to take the platitudes of daily life for granted while also unwilling to leave them behind.”

Lara Feigel reviews The Voice in My Ear for the Guardian.

 

http---com.ft.imagepublish.upp-prod-eu.s3.amazonaws.com-a4944142-6407-11ea-a6cd-df28cc3c6a68“The pièce de résistance is the final story, “No Two Were E’er Wed”, which deftly depicts the power dynamics of a relationship between two young academics in the woke era. Claire’s boyfriend, David, discovers more than he bargained for about her sexual history when he starts reading her diary. He applies a scholarly eye to the entries — analysing her use of the word “nail”, for example — and muses on Claire’s professed interest in submission: “Who exactly was consenting? Was it the submissive woman’s real self, or was it — as in Claire’s case — a false self she had constructed in order to gain approval . . . ?””

Mia Levity reviews The Voice in My Ear in the Financial Times (paywall)

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Beautifully, psychologically exact. Leviston reveals, confronts, disarms and pares us from our unwitting, falser selves. Superbly written and fearlessly imagined fiction.” (Sarah Hall)

A remarkable work of fiction – the idea behind it is both brilliant and simple, but it is the execution that brings it off so unsettlingly well. Leviston writes with lacerating psychological accuracy, and has a poet’s sense for the details that give us – and so much more than us – away. In The Voice in my Earthe dark undercurrents of our most ordinary relationships are exposed through a series of perfect plots and haunting character studies.” (Patrick McGuinness)

A beautiful, brilliant, painful book. It is subtly but unignorably haunting, and its power builds and builds – Leviston has such a clear grasp of the most difficult aspects of being human, and being a woman, from sexual dynamics to surviving your own family. Darkly comic and quietly, devastatingly urgent.” (Daisy Buchanan)

Superb. Elegant, enthralling, often frightening, Leviston walks the dangerous edge of desire and discovery in women’s lives.” (Adam Foulds)

“Frances Leviston’s prose, like her poetry, is as illuminating as it is unsettling. Her narratives are all about what remains unsaid and the silent inexorable falling into place of deep truth.” (Lavinia Greenlaw)

The Voice in My Ear is so devastatingly perceptive and intimidatingly accomplished in a range of modes that it’s hard to sit still while you’re reading; often I found myself pacing up and down the hallway in raptures at the quality of the prose or terror at the exquisitely harrowing turn of the plot. Aside from the formal mastery, Leviston is fearless in facing difficult truths of which lesser writers never even get within telescopic range. Uncompromising and stricken but delivered through beautiful observation and unrivalled emotional and intellectual insight.” (Luke Kennard)

What an extraordinary book, so dense with understanding about personhood and relatedness, about connection, disconnection and unconnection. Frances Leviston puts her distinctive and compelling style at the service of a precise, sinuous, at times agonisingly subcutaneous storytelling. There’s a clarity and superobservancy of the everyday that she conveys along with ‘the sorrow that never was said’: the hidden, the unspeakable, that shapes so much of experience.” (David Hayden)

“This heated, haunted debut is about the dark, violent knots we carry inside ourselves – and what happens when they start to unravel. A lyric, frightening portrayal of what it means to move through the world in female form.” (Sue Rainsford)

“The absorbing stories that make up Frances Leviston’s The Voice in My Ear do what fiction does best, swimming deep in complexity and ambivalence. A work of high emotional intelligence and narrative control.” (Rob Doyle)

Absolutely exquisite, combining just the right amount of sweet and sour. The characters in The Voice in my Ear haunted me long after I’d finished reading. Leviston has an uncanny ability to turn a small moment into a kind of meditation on humanity.” (Jan Carson)

Published 19 March 2020.

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