Brighton author looks at a 21st century woman trying to make sense the world

A novel which has been ten years in the writing has finally seen the light of day.

Brighton-based author and theatre-maker Jolie Booth has been working on The Girl Who’ll Rule The World since 2006.

Jolie said: “When I began writing this novel in my late twenties it felt as if something was trying to escape and required only for me to get out of the way. Writing this book was an utter pleasure and a fond memory. It heavily influenced my life choices at the time.

“As is portrayed in the story, writing this novel really did spur me on to move into ‘a room of one’s own’ and live alone for the first time. They were some of the happiest years of my life and I’m joyful at having bothered to capture their essence in these pages and for the spirit of those years to still be accessible to me now, though not all of the book is autobiographical – as it’s now been ten years I can hardly even remember who really said what, which bits were true and which bits were completely made up. I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually chop up any dead bodies, though!

“To get feedback, at the time, I printed some copies of the first draft and passed it around friends. Feedback was good, but I didn’t feel compelled to do anything else with it. Then in 2015, nearly a decade later, three strangers contacted me to say they’d found copies of my text and they’d found the story relevant, insightful and inspiring. They urged me on. It felt like now was the time to act and the first publisher I sent it to wanted to publish it.

“The first question anybody wants to know when they pick up a book is ‘What’s it about?’ but with this book, that’s the hardest question you could ask, and the last one to be answered.

As with an Impressionist painting, where the image emerges from the dots, in this book a story emerges from the chaos of the writing, revealing a 21st century woman trying to make sense of a world gone mad. A difficult concept to sum up, but OK, here’s a summary… imagine if Moll Flanders met Mrs Dalloway and they both decided to drop some acid and dance all night at a party at a commune just outside Norwich? You’re getting warmer. It’s about Esmeralda. Life, and Esmeralda, but not necessarily in that order.

“Structurally, it’s a novel that challenges our perceptions of time and memory, mingling past and present, as Esmeralda drifts downstream, through a series of scenes peopled with a rambling, picaresque cast of characters, some of whom are fleeting ghosts, never seen again, and some of whom remain to be significant. Actually, drifts is the wrong word. A more appropriate nautical metaphor would be that Esmeralda crashes through life, like an out-of-control speedboat, leaving havoc bobbing in her turbulent wake.

“No situation is too strange, no drug is off the menu, legal, illegal, or purely psychological. Esmeralda the hedonist dances and twirls her way through her coming of age, dressed in naught but a wry grin... Esmeralda is turning thirty.

“I always tell people that it’s a book about turning thirty. Women in their late twenties are definitely the main demographic it’s aimed at. But there’s something unique about the voice of Esmeralda, women like her are still greatly underrepresented in mainstream media today and I am one of those women. But if I crossed out Esmeralda’s name and added the title of any of the other precocious warrior women I surround myself with then it would still seem just as autobiographical of them too. I think of this book as an antenna set up in the centre of my tribe, capturing a snapshot of what had been going on at the time this was written.”

The book is published by The King’s England Press.

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