David Guest, production editor of Living magazines, has written his first novel A Pressure of the Hand. You can own your own first edition for £7 from email@example.com, or in e-book form from Amazon or Apple iBooks.
Berkhamsted author Sue Hampton gave it four stars on Good Reads and said: ‘I considered five stars. As an author myself, I read quite a lot of books by writers I’ve met and I know David Guest, who lives in my town. Aware that he’s sharp but sensitive too, very well read, extremely witty and highly individual, I was confident that I’d find all these qualities in his novel, but in its quiet, not very novelistic way, it exceeded my expectations.
‘This is a tender yet honest and very thoughtful exploration of first love through a series of recovered letters from a girl the narrator tries to locate as a mature woman – and the letters are so strikingly authentic, with a distinct, contrasting and complex character behind them, that it’s hard to believe they’re fiction. It’s a great testament to the power that propels this subtle and apparently slight story of two teenagers – who spend little time together and never consummate the relationship – that even though there’s almost zero drama as we’ve come to expect it in an age where the news is as florid as a soap, it compelled me absolutely and at one point with the sheer physical tension of expectation.
‘I was deeply affected by their story, used as a framework for reflections, strewn with musical and literary references, about love and life. An editor at a commercial publisher would cut all this, talk about rules being broken and revamp the romance, but something beautiful, sad and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny would be lost. Yes, it’s slow, old-fashioned and literary, and some might find the musings saggy, compromising line and shape, but I enjoyed them. They gave the love story substance and the protagonist adult life; they moved me when I wasn’t chuckling.
‘In its spirit it reminded me of Remains of the Day with its passion through restraint and delicacy. If you’re young, read it for its language and an unusually detailed insight into youth and courtship in a different age. If you’re sixty like me, and prefer eloquence and wisdom to murder or romps, you might love it as I did.’
Clare Swatman, editor of Living magazines and author of Before You Go, said: ‘The story covers a matter of a few weeks in protagonist Stephen’s life: a
time when he and his first girlfriend, Grace, conducted first love by letter. The girlfriend is long forgotten, as are the letters Stephen wrote to her, so we follow the course of true love through her letters alone, along with some broken, tentative memories from Stephen himself.
‘It conjures up a former time, before emails and texts and whatsapp. The letters are almost a stream of consciousness from Grace, who talks of her holidays, her parents, her friends and her feelings for Stephen. Stephen is remembering and interpreting the letters from a present-day perspective and it’s an interesting concept, well executed. It’s a lovely, gentle, intellectual read, and a heart-warming love story too. I thoroughly enjoyed it.’