Central Reservation – published November 2011
This is how Holly had woken up every day since the crash. First she would become aware of a weight pressing against her chest; then she’d open her eyes, stiff and unmoving in a breathless clutch of wrinkled sheets, her hands by her sides, as if in a vice, staring into the face of her dead sister from inches away. She hadn’t screamed, not even the first time.
It’s 2001 and Holly believes her life will never change. She and her twin sister Yvonne, growing up on their mother’s isolated farm, will be stuck with each other forever, no matter how desperately Holly longs for freedom. Until, one February morning, Yvonne dies.
For a few brief hours Holly is alone at last. Then her sister’s silent ghost appears, and haunts Holly with ruthless determination. Her cousins arrive, full of promises and secrets. The foot-and-mouth epidemic erupts, and gangs of slaughtermen begin to maraud the countryside. As the pyres blaze, Holly has to find out how far she’s prepared to go for a life that is truly her own.
A gripping and darkly comic tale of loss, haunting and the search for identity in a world on fire.
“Subtle… black comedy undercuts painful emotion. Ambitious and inventive.”
The Times Literary Supplement
“Will le Fleming’s first book is a lot of things: a ghost story, a tale of emotions stripped raw, a commentary on rural life as it is exposed to the barest bones of survival. But first and foremost it is a great read quite beautifully written… no reader could fail to be beguiled by such superbly skilful story-telling.”
Rosie Staal, Blackmore Vale Magazine
“A beautifully written, moving and truly original book.”
Christie Dickason, author and poet
“Will le Fleming has created an evocative, vivid and unsettling world of loss, ghosts and family trauma… A captivating and haunting novel.”
Suzannah Lipscomb, author
“Central Reservation is a spare and economical meditation on different kinds of losses and, like James’s Turn of the Screw, a dazzling puzzle piece, an exploration of the relationship between grief and guilt, self and other. Will le Fleming writes with great control about a girl whose life is fractured completely out of control; the setting – a rural England of motorways, rusted trucks, and dead cattle – is an evocative and eerie psychological landscape, and a kind of paysage moralisé. This disordered world, where a fatal accident happens in a second of irritation, and the dank smell of death clings everywhere is also a curiously funny diagnosis of the state of England. Like Graham Swift’s Waterland it’s an angry and fertile description of a countryside where history has already happened – and yet also a delicately observed comedy of family manners and a coming-of-age story.”
Professor Hannah Sullivan, Stanford University
“This is a writer to watch.”
Meg Rosoff, author
“Will Le Fleming’s writing and plotting are so assured it’s difficult to believe this is a first novel. Anyone expecting a conventional ghost story is in for a surprise. The unique angle here is that the presence of her dead sister is seen by Holly not as an object of terror, but rather an unwanted intrusion, an incarnation of her survivor guilt.What develops is a gripping psychological study of grief, as experienced by an adolescent girl still struggling to come to terms with the loss of her father, who then suddenly loses her sister as well. The handling of family dynamics is expertly done, and the whole is played out against a backcloth of a national disaster. As another reviewer has posted, definitely a writer to watch. Although a book for adults, heartily recommended for Young Adult readers too; they will, I suspect,find much to identify with here.”
John Harding, author
“Central Reservation is the story of a girl looking for her own identity, haunted by loss and loneliness, innocent, yet older than her years. Will le Fleming’s writing is evocative, lyrical, painfully truthful; his words cut to the bone. A writer I was glad to discover.”
Daniela Sacerdoti, author
“Poetic, compelling, unexpected, original and utterly page-turning… Fabulous. The character of Holly is excellent – a prickly, growing green girl.”
“Beautifully written… it will haunt me for some time.”
Forthcoming projects: Perpetual Motion
Maretta Kallinski is a 22-year-old blackjack dealer facing a grim reality: moving back in with her parents. However, she returns to their dingy north London guest-house to find mysteries awaiting her. Why do the guests seem to spend every night in the park across the road? Is her only friend an elderly lunatic or the heir to an immortal secret? And who is the little girl whose ghost appears to Maretta on her first night home?
As she seeks to find answers to these questions and more, Maretta is drawn into a world of fetish consultants, illicit gambling and unlikely corpses. She embarks on a journey encompassing medieval obsessions, love, deceit and conspiracy. A journey of discovery that will take her as far as Wiltshire in an attempt to answer one simple question: what’s the meaning of life?