Joanna Trollope discusses City of Friends Transcript
My name is Joanna Trollope and my new novel is called City of Friends. And the city part is really relevant. It’s about women, it’s about the workplace and a male dominated workplace and the women in it and it’s about friendship and family.
The themes I look at in this book are all aspects of women’s personal and professional lives. In the professional sense all these four women work in the finance industry but they all work in completely different aspects of the finance industry as you will see. Their personal lives are also completely different. I look at marriage, I look at marriage with children and marriage without children. I look at single parenthood. I look at being gay and the relationships attached to being gay in the modern world. In fact, I’m trying to look at every aspect of what it means to be a woman and a working woman in modern life.
When it came to the research, and I always do masses of research for all my novels, I didn’t go to the old fashioned city, I went to the new city, I went to Canary Wharf and I must’ve interviewed between twelve and fourteen women in quietly very powerful positions in the city. They are very pleased to be under the radar because they’re not then scrutinised by the media and they were very willing to talk and that is where I went to do my research. I did the research for I suppose about three months. I lived in this extraordinary finance bubble of Canary Wharf and I talked to the women there and this you will see is the result.
I think there will be quite a lot of readers who are shocked by my character called Gabby who is quite open about the fact that she really prefers work life to domestic and family life. I think this is probably secretly what quite a lot of human beings really do feel. I think most men and a lot of women feel exactly the same. They couldn’t do without family life but it isn’t what they would actually choose. So, although I am aware that it is a rather appalling thing to suggest to the conventional society if you like, I think it does exist and I’d rather like people to talk about it and see what they think. So when you read City of Friends I don’t want to tell you what to think, I’ve tried to put all kinds of points of view depending which character it is right the way through the novel.
So I just want to get you talking about it, talking with your friends, discussing how you work, how you maintain your friendships, how you balance your work life and your family life. I don’t want to tell you what to think, I just really want to get the conversation going.