Deborah Moggach | Best-selling Author

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My own parents divorced when I was in my thirties – to all extents and purposes grown up. But the knock-on effect through our family – I have three sisters – was profound. I wanted to explore this through three generations – the fall-out from a man’s decision to bail out in his sixties and start another life, all over again. I also scripted this as a BBC drama, starring Amanda Redman, Shiela Hancock, Keith Barron and many other terrific actors. It caused quite a stir, largely through its sexual frankness: lesbian seductions, three-in-a-bed sex and so on.

Book Description:

CLOSE RELATIONS is one of the funniest and truest novels about modern family life you’ll ever read. Gordon Hammond, sixty-five, a builder who has built up his own, modestly successful business, has a heart attack. Whilst recovering in hospital he falls in love with April, a young black nurse, and leaves Dorothy, his wife of 45 years to set up home with her. Dorothy is released like a loose cannon into the lives of her three daughters and chaos ensues. More relationships break up, passions run high and dramatic developments ensue that will change the Hammond family forever.

Reviews

“A witty and intelligent tale about the terrifying, seductive lie of stability – emotional, physical, financial, sexual.”
(Mail on Sunday)

“Close Relations has a briskly dark sense of life’s impermanence and of the unsanctioned desires that threaten all our fortresses. Its diagnosis of contemporary life has a tough optimism.”
(Guardian)

“Vintage Moggach.”
(Tatler)

“An involving study of the complex feelings that both bind and tear apart families.”
(Sunday Times)

The title story of this collection came to me when I was in the changing rooms of my local swimming baths. There was a plastic crib there. A little boy pointed to it and asked his mother what it was for, and she replied: “It’s for changing babies.” His face went transparent, in that way small children’s faces do when they’re thinking something large and unsettling. She didn’t realize what she had said. A little while later Radio 4 asked me to write a Christmas story, so I linked the plastic crib to the birth of Jesus, all seen through a child’s confused eyes. Many of my stories start this way – two disparate images or ideas, that knock together and create a spark. Another story, “Stopping at the lights”, came about when I was trying to adapt my novel “Driving in the Dark” as a film, and it had gone dead on me – I knew it too well, it felt stale. So I took a character from it, a woman called Shirley who lived in a trailer park near Spalding, and gave her a story of her own. By giving her another life, the novel itself gained energy again, its characters started stirring and I could make them move again, into drama. Its like shaking up the molecules.

Book Description:

At the swimming pool, Duncan’s mother was drying her hair. In the corner of the changing room he saw something he hadn’t seen before: it was a big red plastic thing, on legs like a crib. He nudged his mum and pointed. What is that for? he shouted. She switched off the dryer, Whats what for? That. He pointed. Oh, it’s for changing babies, she said and she switched on the dryer again and Duncan is then convinced his parents want to swap him for a new one. This is one of the wonderful stories in a new collection of Deborah Moggach’s best, Chaning Babies, which will delight both die-hard fans and readers new to her. She writes of a woman who thinks she has found the perfect man until he becomes too mysterious for words, a rock star writing his memoirs who can’t remember a thing, life and times in a caravan park, harassed teenagers and harangued fathers. There are opera lovers, Belgian lovers, young lovers, and romance in Manicharo Apartments, courtesy of Sunspan Holidays, all in this collection of stories from the author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Reviews

“Quirky, sassy and well crafted…this is Moggach at her best.”
(TLS)

“Just delicious.”
(New Woman)

The title story came from my own experience as a waitress at a Holiday Inn. I was pregnant, feeling sick and had to wear a smiley badge whilst serving customers with scrambled eggs. “What if?” I thought, “what if a young girl finds herself serving her long lost father, who flirts with her because he doesn’t know who she is, and all the time she has to Smile?” What if? The question one always asks onself. Another story, called “Making Hay”, features a coach driver. He stuck in my head and refused to go away, so much so that I had to write a whole novel for him (“Driving in the Dark”).

Book Description:

A wonderfully entertaining and astute collection of short stories about life today. Deborah Moggach’s stories take as their subject modern marriage and the modern family. In a world of plastic SMILE badges, devout news-agents peddling porn magazines and bleak estate houses gadgeted like spaceships, men and women come together, draw apart and find out, in between, that there is much room for deception and discovery.

Reviews

“Deborah Moggach can fit a complex idea onto a postage stamp…the tales in “Smile” are ordinary human crises, described tersely, compassionately, and with a wit as dry as the Sahara.”
(Independent)

This is a story about surrogate motherhood, also featuring sisters – they crop up a great deal in my work. The novel actually started life as a TV drama. In the mid-eighties I went to ITV with an idea for a contemporary drama serial in 8 episodes. As it happened, surrogate motherhood would soon be big news so the timing was lucky. I was also lucky to have a terrific cast – Amanda Redman, amongst others. I’d called it “Bearing It”, a title I like better, but the producer suggested “To Have and To Hold” – more ITV, somehow. So when I turned the scripts into a novel it had to stay. It stirred up quite a lot of controversy at the time. It was my first major TV drama, and I loved being involved. In fact it was filmed in my neighbourhood – Camden Town and Holloway – and I once, when I went shopping, I found pages of my script blowing in the gutter.

Book Description

From the bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Life has smiled on Viv – chaotic, pretty, charismatic, radical, she has always been one for bold moves. Her sister Ann is less fortunate – sober predictable, now unable to have children, she has always trailed in Viv’s shadow. Then Viv decides to give her sister the best present she can think of – a baby. And little thinks of the repercussions her magnanimity will bring. . . .

Reviews

“A very good novel indeed – contemporary in its subject, compassionate in its treatment of the four central characters.”
(The Times)

My third novel launches into the unknown – into worlds I knew nothing about, worlds I made up. In other words, I left my own life behind. I also wrote through the eyes of a man, as well as a woman, and constructed a complex series of plots that only converged at the end.

Book Description

Claudia has always been independent – own flat, absorbing job, a husband so devoted he is almost a housewife. Until she finds herself an abruptly and uneasily liberated woman. Steve Mullan deals in faces – and is perhaps too well fitted for his job as a cosmetics rep. His wife June is the perfect model for his firm’s products. Yet after a year of marriage, life is proving rather less than perfect. It is a sly stroke of chance which brings Claudia and Steve together. Yet neither could know how far the consequences of a quiet drink would reach…

Reviews

“I immensely enjoyed A Quiet Drink. It is an unassuming novel that starts modestly and ends up as social comedy of the highest order. Ms Moggach is funny, shrewd and has an ear for dialogue that is lethally accurate.”
(Daily Telegraph)

“A highly intelligent, fluent comedy about the consumer society, with…a lot of good jokes…wonderfully readable.”
(Sunday Times)

“Detailed, thoughtful, and emotionally-stripping, illustrating once again that you don’t really know your partner just because you married him or her…a skilful story by a very readable author.”
(Daily Mail)

My second novel was also drawn largely from my own life. I was living in Camden Town, London, with two small children. Such is the intense, closed-off world of motherhood, I simply could imagine no other life. Of course I created fictional characters and events, but they were deeply rooted in my own circumstances – marriage to a man who was often away, a long secret garden, and that parched, magical summer of 1976.

Book Description

At 23 Brinsley Street, Kate Cooper struggles with her two babies, the household chores and the effort of keeping up appearances for her high-flying husband. Next door, Sam Green struggles with his novel, his wife goes out to work and his self-absorbed daughter strives to keep up the appearance of a teenager. As the long, hot summer draws on, a heady brew of magic and mischief awaits them all.

Reviews

“Hilarious.”
(The Observer)

“Funny, affectionate and unpretentious…always a pleasure to read. Moggach has acute things to say about young married life, about looking after children, about the secret places behind noisy North London streets.”
(New Statesman)

“An immaculately observered slice of urban life.”
(Daily Telegraph)