Charlotte Moore - Author Picture

Charlotte Moore - Author

Charlotte Moore was born in 1959. After reading English at Oxford and History of Art at Birkbeck College, she became a teacher for twelve years. She is now a full-time writer and has published three novels, as well as a children's biography of Florence Nightingale. For two years she wrote a highly acclaimed column called Mind the Gap in the Guardian. She lives in Sussex with her three children.

Some of our most intimate moments are shared with friends. But Charlotte Moore, author of My Sister Victoria, wonders if we should be so trusting ...

Childhood friendships - few phrases are more evocative. We recall our first friends in such physical detail - the rubbed sandal strap, the smell of pear drops, the freckles on the nose that were the exact colour of light brown Smarties. Nearly always, we described these friendhips with affection and humour, but in fact the "best friend" pairings of childhood are rehearsals for the central relationships of adult life. They are amongst the most passionate of human bonds. Loyalty, exclusivity, ways of demonstrating affection and support, are all explored, and when allegiances shift, the child learns to cope with rejection and loss. I can still feel the cold and gritty playground as I sat with my back to the wall watching the all-important one go off hand-in-hand with another, and all I could do about it was pretend I didn't mind.

In My Sister Victoria, the power - and the danger - of the friendship between Ruth and Victoria is increased by the fact that they are cousins and adopted sisters as well as friends. Ruth doesn't dare to see Victoria for what she is because to expose Victoria would pull the family apart. The collapse of any friendship is painful / the collapse of a friendship which involves rewriting the rules on which a family operates is intolerable. Only Simon, Ruth's socially awkward but clear-sighted younger brother, judges Victoria accurately and, as is traditionally the case with truth-tellers, the rest of them find it more comfortable to disregard him.

It is not surprising that following Victoria's defection Ruth fails to form a lasting relationship with a man for many years. The childhood bond between Ruth and Victoria was too unbalanced, too exclusive. True best friends give each other the confidence to become part of a wider circle; Victoria mesmerizes Ruth, keeps her gaze fixed in one direction. Children use their friends as a means of defining and understanding their own natures. Victoria's control means that Ruth is prevented from learning about herself. Ruth's essential gift for sympathy, inherited from her mother, means that emotionally she can do justice to other friendships, but when in their late thirties the spectre of Victoria reappears, instant damage is done to Ruth's fledgling engagement. Despite everything, Ruth has never found anyone who moved her emotionally as much as Victoria did, and one is left with the feeling that she never will.

My Sister Victoria is the first novel I have written in the first person, which makes some readers assume that it is autobiographical. In fact, like all my characters, Ruth Rampling is a blend. I have taken some details from my life and other people's, but essentially Ruth is a character in her own right. Female friendship is a fascinating subject, in reality and in fiction; at best so affirmative and life-enhancing, but when it goes wrong, so cruelly destructive.

Featured Books, with extracts, by Charlotte Moore

William the Conqueror
Charlotte Moore
Everyone knows that William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings in 1066 after King Harold had been shot in the eye with an arrow. It is all recorded in that great historical document, the Bayeux Tapestry. But who was...
Lovereading Price: £3.99 - Saving £1.00 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 06/04/2006
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