Sara Green catches up with author Sarah Foot.
I met Suffolk writer, Sarah Foot at a dinner party a couple of years ago and she told me about the book she was about to have published. Well, she didn’t exactly tell me about it, I had to tease every last morsel of information about it from her. Sarah isn’t one to sing and dance about what she does – she’s one of those private, reserved people and that made me want to read her book as soon as possible! After a lot of encouragement she did send me the proof to read – so a copy of Fragments arrived in my inbox and with it the sudden realisation that I would have to tell Sarah what I thought about it! Why hadn’t I just kept quiet until it was published?
A few months later my husband and I went away for the weekend and I arrived at the hotel having forgotten to bring anything to read – I suddenly remembered Fragments and I started reading and I didn’t stop until we got home on the Sunday evening. What a relief – I loved it. Sarah writes beautifully – she crafts a delicate story around intricate characters that you really do come to know and I was absolutely bereft at the end.
Many of the themes have resonances with Sarah’s own life. When I first asked her about the novel she said it was about whose needs one puts first – your husband’s, your child’s, your family’s or your own? This is a problem she has had to face many times. When her son was two her husband was sick for a long period of time. When she was a teenager her mother developed multiple sclerosis. So Sarah really does know about the tensions of wanting to lead your own life but at the same time having a desperate need to look after those she loves. Deep down she says she’s very trivial. ‘Sometimes when you are struggling with really basic issues of life and death it’s a relief to turn to the joy of a beautiful pair of shoes or discuss the perfect colour of a lipstick,’ she told me. Sarah found pure escapism through her work and her writing. She worked at Vogue for a few years and loved it, edited Irish Tatler, a women’s magazine and had a regular column in The Times.
Fragments also explores how first appearances can be very deceiving. Sarah is fascinated by the way sometimes it is easy to make a quick judgement about somebody and then as you peel away the layers you realise their life is far from as wonderful as you think. Initially you make assumptions about the characters in the book but as the novel progresses you come to understand them. Sarah wants, by the end of the novel, the reader to feel immense compassion for all these fl awed characters.
The novel is set in London where Sarah has spent most of her life, but even as a child she wished she could live in the country and six years ago, realising that dream, she and her family moved to Suffolk. Sarah has told me that she ‘never wants to live in a town again. I am not even sure I want to live in a village,’ she says, ‘and what is wonderful about Suffolk is that you can still find those places of wonderful wildness and solitude’.
The paperback version of Fragments is available to buy, £7.99.