One of the reviews I read of Kate Davies’ In at the Deep End before I read it, described it as ‘the lesbian Bridget Jones’. Apologies to all Bridget Jones’ fans, but that didn’t really make me jump at the chance to read it.
I was lucky enough to perform at an event in which Kate Davies was reading excerpts from the book, and that was enough to change my mind. Unsure whether I had engaged with the reading due to the author’s affability and delivery, or due to the text itself, I was happy to note that sounding laughter was coming out of my mouth as I started reading it.
In at the Deep End is the story of Julia, a woman in her mid twenties, who realises she hasn’t had sex in three years, and the ensuing realisation of how she hasn’t really enjoyed sex (of the heterosexual kind), and exploration of other options, end up leading her to come out as a Lesbian, in a tale of sexual adventures set in London.
Julia spends her time between her boring civil service job, her house she shares with her flatmate and the inevitable boyfriend, her parents’ middle class house in Oxford, the warehouse parties of Hackney Wick, the queer swing dancing classes and, of course, the queer BDSM sex parties. Typical London life…
The initial tale of discovery that there’s more to life than your job and heterosexual sex, is done masterfully, with great descriptions of the feelings the character is going through, and quite titillating tales of sex (fisting included), without losing the comedic flavour that is interweaved throughout the whole book. As someone who came out as queer later in life, and first started getting out of her shell through the practice of swing dance, I fully – and somewhat eerily – relate!
As all fiction needs tension, the introduction of the butch love interest, Sam, who’s into BDSM and polyamory, comes to inject some conflict into the narrative, and here’s where I’ve found a few issues. Bad, manipulative people exist all across the world and ways of life, and I would have liked it if it had been made way more clear, that Sam was a harmful character independent of her love of kink and multiple partners. Yes, my queer, polyamorous and kink enthusiast self was somewhat thrown from the world of the book at this point.
An enjoyable read, that will leave you feeling like you have to explore more of what London has to offer.