Walking Naked by Nina Bawden

 Walking Naked cover

Walking Naked by Nina Bawden was first published in 1981 but my copy is a Virago reprint from 1992. It all feels very autobiographical but I gather that Bawden habitually plundered her own life for use in her novels.

The action takes place on one day. Laura is an author and is happily married to Andrew who is her second husband. He’s successful and socially adept where Laura is awkward and uncomfortable. It begins with Andrew playing a game of tennis with a visiting American business contact, with the wives looking on.

It’s a busy day as next on the agenda is a prison visit to Laura’s grown up son by her previous husband. The son is being charged with drug smuggling, he’s either guilty or a complete idiot. It’s a situation that finds Laura and Andrew feeling powerless, an unusual state for them to be in.

Laura is carrying a lot of baggage from her wartime childhood when she felt abandoned by her mother. Her anxiety manifests itself as a fear and dread that her home is silently being attacked by dry rot and is about to tumble down around her and her family.

But it’s Laura who is telling this tale and she’s a very flawed character, skipping back and forth between the past and the present the reader slowly discovers that Laura isn’t as she has portrayed herself.

This was well written but not a comfy read as it’s dealing with broken families and damaged people.

You can read Bawden’s obituary here

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