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We are delighted to announce that VG Lee is on a shortlist of 5 for the Stonewall Award for Writer of the Year. The Stonewall Awards celebrate the outstanding contribution of individuals and groups towards lesbian, gay and bisexual equality, in the past year.
At the beginning of VG Lee’s fourth novel, Always You, Edina, Bonnie Benson is visiting her grandmother in the Three Elms Nursing Home. ‘Your dad was very different,’ her grandmother tells her, ‘not so easy to fathom but he had...well I suppose you’d call it sex appeal. Not only did he have it, but he knew he had it'.
Suddenly a childhood memory is triggered taking Bonnie back over four decades to her ten-year-old self living with her family in Birmingham. It is 1964 and Prince Philip is about to open the newly constructed Bull Ring. Bonnie has three idols in her life; Joanna Bayliss, the most popular girl at her school; glamorous, charismatic Aunt Ed, who ‘could light up a room – if there was a man in that room’; and Bonnie’s father, Ken. Bonnie observes the close relationship between Ed and Ken without comprehending the tragic repercussions it will have on both families.
Reviews'Lee writes with unfailing warmth and wisdom about the comedy and complexity of childhood and family life. A real treat of a novel. I loved it.'
‘An often funny, at times bittersweet novel, Always You, Edina tells the story of endlessly good-natured child narrator Bonnie as she negotiates family and school life in 1960s Britain. Most memorable is her crush on popular classmate Joanna Bayliss, who is alternately encouraging and dismissive, and Bonnie’s love for the Edina of the title, her daring, glamorous aunt, whose relationship with other family members proves to be far from simple.
Through Bonnie, VG Lee beautifully explores the inner life of a clever but naïve pre-teen, and is particularly perceptive about the nature of burgeoning romantic love during childhood and a child’s growing understanding of the complexities of adult relationships. As you’d expect from Lee, this is a warm-hearted novel, and at the centre of its warm heart is Bonnie’s relationship with her cantankerous raisin-eyed Gran, whom in the present day, 50-year-old Bonnie visits in a residential home. There are revelations and surprises to come from these meetings, and one in particular had me cheering out loud for Bonnie. Thoroughly enjoyable.’
'A touching evocation of loneliness and the complex relationship between an aging mother and daughter. A light touch, a wonderful laconic style and spot-on humour made it a joy to read.'
'Funny and sad. Enchanting and beguiling. VG Lee reaches parts of me other comediennes can’t reach.'
'VG Lee is funny, smart, clever, witty, not afraid to be honest and poignant at the same time.'
'The Comedienne has an intrinsic truth that pulls you in before you know it. VG Lee is the first lesbian writer to specialize in that peculiarly Northern deadpan style that observes the humorous side of the casual cruelty inherent in human behaviour.'
VG Lee: Biography:
VG Lee is an author and a stand-up comedian. She was born in Birmingham but has gradually worked her way southwards and now lives and writes in Hastings, East Sussex. She has published three novels; The Comedienne, Diva Books, 2001; The Woman in Beige, Diva Books, 2003; Diary of a Provincial Lesbian, Onlywomen Press, 2005; and a collection of short stories, As You Step Outside, Tollington Press, 2008.
Her work has appeared in Chroma, Magma, Poetry Review and Mslexia. More recently her short stories have been published in Boys & Girls and Men & Women, two anthologies from Glasshouse Books.
In 2009, to celebrate her sixtieth year, she decided to become a stand-up comedian and perform at sixty venues. Sixty venues became ninety and she was a runner-up in the prestigious ‘New Act of the Year 2010’ at the Hackney Empire. She has appeared twice at the Edinburgh Festival.
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