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Description - Cold Water by Gwendoline Riley

Carmel McKisco is wry, volatile and full of longing: a twenty-year-old girl working nights in a Manchester dive bar. Cut off from her family, and from Tony, her carefree ex, she forges strange alliances with her customers, and daydreams, half-heartedly, about escaping to Cornwall. Cold Water is a poignant picaresque of barmaids and barflies; eccentric individuals all somehow tethered to their past - not least Carmel herself, who is nurturing mordant fixations on both her lost love, Tony, and her washed-up adolescent hero: a singer from Macclesfield. As she spins out the days and nights of an unrelentingly rainy winter she finds herself compelled to confront her romantic preoccupations, for better or worse.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099437154
ISBN-10: 0099437155
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 10mm)
Pages: 160
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 1-May-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - Cold Water by Gwendoline Riley

Book Reviews - Cold Water by Gwendoline Riley

UK Kirkus Review » Riley has been featured in the national media as a star on the make, and her first novel, a slim but memorable testament to urban life in the 21st century, provides all the reasons why. She completed the novel in her early 20s while working bar shifts in central Manchester and her narrator Carmel McKisco similarly works in a bar and is in her early 20s. It gets harder to draw resemblances past that, although it must be said that on first appearances Riley like Carmel seems to be a girl whose carapace of cool is seamlessly sewn. As readers, of course, we're let into Carmel's private world, where we see she's not as sorted as she appears. Early in the book she tells us her dad died when she was 14. 'I found him, sitting stiffly on the settee when I came in late, one night, his eyes open behind his glasses, Guardian on his knee and an ashtray balanced on the arm of his chair. I clicked off the hissing TV and sat down next to him. I wasn't upset. I felt relieved. For us and for him.' This economy of style, with its astute juxtapositions of emotion, sensation and factual detail, runs as the backbone to the narrative. Not much happens, in fact. Carmel daydreams a lot about Tony, her ex-boyfriend, but when she does eventually get back together with him, she knows it won't work. She takes trips; she tells us about her wardrobe. She tells in wistful word-pictures of urban drifting, with brief flames of friendship turning into ashy semi-connection with half-strangers. When her friend Katja admits to having 'run out of energy... every morning when I go down to collect my mail, I say to myself please please today let there be something in the post that's going to change my life', Carmel is brought up short by this also-truth about her life. 'I stopped hanging out with her so much after that.' Riley mercilessly delineates the gaps between Carmel's outer shell and inner thoughts, her fantasy and her lived experience, and presents us with a narrative both compelling and wise. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Gwendoline Riley

Gwendoline Riley was born in 1979 and has published three other novels: Sick Notes, Joshua Spassky, which was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and won the Somerset Maugham Award and, most recently, Opposed Positions.

Books By Gwendoline Riley

First Love by Gwendoline Riley
Paperback / softback, March 2017
Opposed Positions by Gwendoline Riley
Paperback, January 2014
Joshua Spassky by Gwendoline Riley
Paperback, May 2008
Sick Notes by Gwendoline Riley
Paperback, March 2005