Gee Williams

Desire Line

Desire Line by Gee Williams

Chosen as the Welsh Book Council’s and W.H.Smith’s “Book of the Month”

‘An extraordinary second novel from the writer of the prize-winning ‘Salvage.’ A tour de force, a mesmerising proof of Hitchcock’s theorem that a location is not a backdrop.’

A freak tidal surge hitting a Welsh seaside town leaves devastation and three locals drowned. Yet when a fourth body is found in the debris it takes time for it to be identified as the respected Oxford writer Sara Meredith. A celebrity, an icon to an entire generation – what was she doing in such an unlikely place? And how had it ended in her death?

Extract from “Desire Line”

Rhyl’s been made for outsiders, a real melting pot, so, walking through these streets with the savvy of a native, you might take me for one of you. Wrong. Behind my façade are rooms you couldn’t guess the function of, full of things you’d throw away. And they’re not built for anyone’s comfort- certainly not mine- but this is two stories. Sara that I followed the day she arrived is the main one...and you can gauge Sara’s importance by the fact that when her body washed up it made the town’s troubles into nothing.

From an interview with Emma Schofield of Wales Arts Review

Can you tell us a bit about the background to your most recent novel Desire Line? I … was struck by how the topic seems very poignant to recent years, featuring a tidal surge striking the Welsh coastline…

It’s almost impossible for me to recapture what I thought when I began Desire Line because the first fragments of it were written years ago-but they would be notes to myself, in no way drafts. And it wasn’t until the book was virtually finished I recalled a peculiar fact: twice in my life I’ve nearly drowned off that coast – once when I was six years old and a massive wave came out of calm sea and took me with it, and again when I was fifteen by just being over-ambitious. Both times I had to be fished out by others. Which says something about my own stupidity/ persistence as a swimmer and also about, as a writer, not letting useful experiences go to waste or lie unresolved.

Reviews of “Desire Line”

“'Gee Williams' prose style calls to mind a somewhat unlikely hybrid between James Joyce and Martin Amis. First person, unreliable, not-quite-murder-mystery… And in Williams' hands, Rhyl, the book's setting becomes a noir-ish, otherworld …Desire Line is a work of great philosophical depth and profundity masquerading as a murder mystery. And like that book it leaves you both disorientated and yet somehow awoken. A must read.' ”
- John Lavin, The Welsh Agenda

“…Gee Williams does not simply write these characters…you end up wearing their story like a second skin. Desire Line crosses the boundaries between reality and fiction so flawlessly when you emerge from the inky pages you realise just how accurate her perception of the 21st century is. One exquisite tapestry.”
- Maddy McGlynn,
- hear the complete review at

To buy

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