New novel from Norwich Christian celebrates love
Elspeth Rushbrook, a Norwich Christian, has published her first novel set in a fictional Norwich Anglican church, which explores the boundaries between love, friendship, faith and sexuality. Here she explains more.
Elspeth Rushbrook has self published her new novel, Parallel Spirals, set primarily in her home city of Norwich in the early 21st century with other stories from previous centuries intertwined. Here she writes about her own journey writing the novel and the themes that it covers.
I wrote Parallel Spirals out of a need. Out of several. One was that as a writer, one can’t help but write, and I had a story I wanted to tell. It surprised me where it went - it wasn’t what I’d planned. Sometimes I am still surprised that it is me who wrote this story. It is not the story of me - I like to play with layers of selves - but it did help me work out some beliefs and issues of my own.
It’s had a long gestation, though I foresaw that it would. It needed time to be ready, both as a writer, and to say publicly what the story implies. But the last need was making a stand.
I thought that much of the message of the story would be obsolete by the time I came to publish. In a way, I wished it were. So many changes in Western society: greater tolerance, new laws. So I was glad I’d set my story a little in the past. The main - Norwich based one - that is. There are stories within stories, ranging from 19th-16th century, one of which is also set in East Anglia. But as I published, I learned of events that surprised me as much as they appalled me. One was the shooting in Orlando. The other was something much more local. In different ways, they are both expressions of the same hatred
The story is set in a fictional Norwich Anglican church. I have been - and am - part of many faith communities, some here, some in other parts of the country. I’m East Anglian, but I travel and have moved about. I enjoy being what someone wittily called ‘a mobile person’. As with work and geography, I find that we are no longer nailed but pinned, and that our journey takes us to multiple places. That is also part of the story too.
The young woman in the story is not able to continue with the beliefs that she had at the start. What she thought was of God and scriptural is something she realises is a human prejudice. She also encounters personally what it’s like to have her own judgement and prohibition aimed at her. The story’s sequel continues to chart the path of those who don’t offer themselves the love and acceptance that my protagonist learns that God offers us.
Ultimately, this is a love story - human and divine. It’s about discovering a love that’s shocking in its inclusion, shocking us out of our refusal to love, and basking in a love that is affirming, expanding, and is to be celebrated, wherever it is found.
You can read more and buy a copy of Parallel Spirals at www.parallel-spirals.webs.com.