Deborah Moggach | Best-selling Author
A warm, witty and wise novel about the unexpected twists that later life can bring, from the hugely popular author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Tulip Fever.

Thrillingly, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” continues to break records, playing in cinemas all over the world – proving, if proof were needed, that you don’t have to be twenty-five to go to the movies. We could have told them that, couldn’t we?  A story about the over-sixties is bound to find an audience. People of my vintage are terrific film-buffs, it’s in our blood, and what’s more we visit mid-week and even in the afternoons, so cinemas love us. The problem has been a lack of movies that reflect our experience. This is due to Hollywood’s shameless sucking-up to the young, of course, but this movie’s success has given the studios a jolt, and about time too.

Another reason for its success is its stars. More and more I realize how great movie actors are worth every cent, and then some. They understand sub-text; they can invest even a banal line with nuance; the changing weather on their face reflects their inner life. Their timing is pitch-perfect; watching Bill Nighy shake a dead telephone is bliss. And somehow, in that indefinable way, they have a presence on the screen. One feels in good hands.

Needless to say, all this has been great for the book. I’ve had many, many emails from people who’ve seen the film, often several times, and then gone on to read the novel. One or two, to their irritation, have discovered that they’ve already read the book when it was called “These Foolish Things” – to them I can only apologize for Amazon’s misleading marketing, nothing to do with me (anyway you should have gone to a bookshop!). Apart from that hiccup it’s been hugely pleasurable to see a film giving such joy and then to see how many people are reading the book which, as you might have discovered, is very different to the film. In a way this is a bonus – one doesn’t confuse the two, or resent the fact that an actor has taken over a favourite character and made it their own, because the characters in the film are unrecognizably different anyway.

The weird thing is that my next novel is also set in a hotel – (“Heartbreak Hotel”, due out in February). This wasn’t intentional. I guess the thought of throwing strangers together in an alien environment is simply too tempting to resist – a place where they can shed their responsibilities, where they can become anyone, do anything, and surprise both themselves and us, the readers. There’s something about hotels that loosens the inhibitions, which is always fun.

The main character has already had a life in an earlier novel, “The Ex-Wives” but he reappears here ten years later, having been left a ramshackle B&B in an old lover’s will. The problem is, because the B&B’s in Wales it’s always raining, so after breakfast none of his guests leave. Being a hospitable chap, he cracks open a bottle a bang go his profits. So he decides to convert the place into a hotel and run Courses for Divorces. Nothing works out as planned, surprise surprise, as the wrong people fall in love and subject themselves to the usual indignities. Some of them are well past middle-age but, as we know, it’s never too late to make a romantic fool of oneself.  I’m going to link it to some short films which I shall put on the internet, which may work or may be a disaster – who knows?

Apart from that I’m developing a couple of TV series which may or may not happen. One is an update of a Zola novel, set in Cameron’s Britain, and the other is a story about Soho prostitutes set in the 1950s, an era which is both lost in the mists of time and yet dimly recognizable.

Meanwhile I’d love to hear from you, email me at info@deborahmoggach.com and meanwhile have a great summer. 

This is the novel that, as I said, grew out of a short story. In fact, even more deliciously, I later extracted a character from it (Shirley) and gave her a story of her own (it appears in a later collection, “Changing Babies”).. The storl is narrated by a man, a coach driver called Desmond. It really describes a long nervous breakdown as he drives through Britain, searching for a son he’s never seen, the result of a liaison long ago. I write a great deal about lost children – lost through divorce, kidnapping, abduction, incest. It’s also a voyage through various hinterlands of modern life – a caravan park in Spalding, a house, condemned for demolition, in a backstreet of Reading. I like people who are washed up, who live on the edge. Like Heather in “Porky”, this man seems to be carrying on life without me; I’ve thought about him a great deal in the intervening years (this novel was written in 1988). I’m very fond of poor bewildered Desmond, who is trying to understand women. I suppose it’s a sort of road movie, a dark night of the soul. And it speaks up for the eighties’ forgotten gender: men.

Book Description

Desmond never did have much luck with women – except in getting them through their driving tests. Now a coach driver, he is at the most crucial crossroads of his life. His wife has thrown him out. The crisis serves only to deepen his despair over another failed liaison – until he elects to steer his coach on a spectacularly reckless quest for the son he has never seen.

Reviews

“Disturbing and witty…a deftly-described odyssey that places the battle of the sexes in a new arena.” (Sunday Times)

“Moggach, for the purposes of the book, has turned herself into a bloke. His monologue throughout strikes me as totally authentic, but not only does Moggach get his lingo right, she thinks through his head, dramatizing his confusion, decency, wit, pain and determination. This is not just ventriloquism, but empathy so complete as to be phenomenal.”
(Irish Times)

“At once acutely funny and sad…a woman’s protest at the inequality thrust on men by the worse excesses of the women’s movement.”
(Mail on Sunday)

“Poignant and funny…Deborah Moggach is brilliant at capturing just the right voice for her characters.”
(Cosmopolitan)