Jessie Burton, author of the Miniaturist (HarperCollins Publishing), was in conversation with fellow writer Laura Purcell to discuss her newly released book, The Confession (Picador). Burton’s new book is energetic and lively with the main characters of Elise and Rose, mother and daughter respectively both lost in their own ways. Their story is separated by decades, Rose is searching for a mother who left when shortly after she was born who never had any intention of being found.
Burton, read from the start of chapter two to a predominantly female audience. The Confession is in no way a book solely for women but it does focus on the female experience of friendship, motherhood and carving a place in a patriarchal world. Unlike Buton’s past work this book is set primarily in the modern day and 1980’s London. When Purcell asked Burton about the difference in the setting in comparison with her past works, Burton responded that when writing settings she aims "to fictionalise the world and embody an impression or a feeling of a place". Burton joked that the benefit of setting stories in the past allows her to not involve mobile phones in those chapters, "It's easier for Elsie to disappear because nobody has a mobile phone in the 1980s."
Purcell asked about Burton’s experiences in LA, and the difference between the time the author spent in the city and the time her character Connie spent in the city, "LA made an impression on me. It’s an alluring, strange and alienating place. But cool to write about it as an outsider because people go there to pretend to be a new person". This is evident as both Connie and Elise are drawn to in different directions with major and messy consequences for themselves and others.
Jessie Burton in conversation with Laura Purcell drew out the themes of the book and it’s uplifting but ultimately sad energy. The book is complex and a thrilling read and as Burton said, "the story is as much about being a daughter and friend as it is being a mother or a lover".
Jessie Burton was in conversation with Laura Purcell at Waterstones Nottingham on Thursday 10 October
The Confession is available in Waterstones now for £13.99