Where to start reading Rosemary Tonks

Rosemary Tonks was an acclaimed poet and novelist, incisive reviewer and literary socialite, who famously ‘disappeared’ in the 1970s. Despite being written approximately 50 years ago, her work is fresh, acerbic and funny. Discover the best books to start reading now.

The Bloater (1968)

You've got to be expelled for syphilis or being a Lesbian. If possible, both.

A rediscovered literary classic, The Bloater is a rollicking hothouse novel where love and repulsion are two paths to the same abyss.

Min works at the BBC as a sound engineer, and in theory she’s married, but her husband George is so invisible that she accidentally turns the lights off even when he’s still in the room. Luckily, she has her friends and lovers to distract her: in Min’s self-lacerating, bracingly opinionated voice, life boils down to sex appeal — and of late she’s being courted by an internationally renowned opera singer whom she refers to as The Bloater. Disgusted by and attracted to him in equal measure, her dilemma reaches a hysterical, hilarious pitch.

Isn’t buying new lampshades a form of slow death?

Sophie — a clever and charming young woman — is trying to get out from under her mother’s thumb. She’s in love with her childhood friend Philip, but she often worries that she loves him too much for her own good, and that he might only be another thumb to crawl under.

The Halt During the Chase is a hilarious coming of age tale told in Tonks’ incomparable voice, which explores love, adulthood, marriage, insecurity, and stifling British snobbery and classism.

'I'm thirty, and I'm stuck'

Arabella is on an increasingly desperate quest for freedom from her overbearing father and her conspicuously absent brother. But her desire for self-actualisation only ends up leading her into the orbit of a happily married man.

Ahead of its time, The Way Out of Berkeley Square is moving and deeply funny with a protagonist that you have to root for.