Beyond the Bay of Angels

Autobiographical Fiction: Takes the facts and fills the gaps with your imagination.

It seems this is an accepted category, ever evolving from the genre of fiction and one for which I recently discovered the above definition.

Reassuring, even if I get the impression, somewhat denigrated and certainly lacking the prestige, or heaven forbid, comparison with Literary Fiction.

Apart from a children’s story written during my years in India, my stories and novels to date have comfortably fitted into the category of Romantic Fiction. Sometimes called Women’s Fiction. Even my attempt at mystery writing was, in the end, overshadowed by the romantic element linking the two principal protagonists.

I have given much thought to just what it is that makes a good writer. I do not mean great. I have never for one moment been deluded to the extent of aspiring to such heights as those of Conrad, Henry James or  their ilk.  However, winner of the Booker Prize some decades ago, Anita Brookner, is described as ‘ one of the great writers of Contemporary Fiction’. Another term, and incidentally, one which gives me pause for thought.

In The Bay of Angels published in 2001 we find again the recurring theme of all her work. Disappointment in love and isolation. Although an Academic, she came to writing relatively late in her life, at age 53. She never married and took care of her parents until their death. She died aged 87 in 2016.

I rarely walk now beside the Bay of Angels here in Nice where I now live, without thinking of her, or of this novel. The haunting sadness of wasted life. Both the daughter and the tragic mother seemed incapable of grasping the joys held out to them.

In my new novel, on which I am at present embarked, I find myself reflecting on life’s regrets. On missed opportunities, on untapped potential. I wonder just how much of Anita Brookner is reflected in her characters which brings me back to the term, Autobiographical Fiction. Not because knowing some facts about her life explains a lot, but knowing one’s own life experience from the perspective of later years, I see how rich a fund of material is at my finger tips. How great an adventure this story can be. If not in literary terms then in enjoyment of a good tale well told.

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The Bay of Angels

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