Anna’s academic husband has lost his job. Anna is an author living in London’s Kensal Rise and mother to two almost grown up children, the eldest at university. Her irksomely wise and maddeningly larger-than-life Italian grandmother must be taken out of an expensive care home to live with them. Suddenly they have no money. Her marriage is rocky. Things look glum, even desperate. So resourceful Anna, whose charm and grace make her friends easily, hits upon the bright idea of a writers’ co-operative which will publish their work on a pay-per-story website. She achieves this with the enthusiasm and loyalty of her entourage of mates, employing an entire United Nations of different nationalities, an authors’ alliance of impressive sexual and racial diversity. And why is it such an instant hit with its public? Because this is The Love Factory, specialising in erotic writing. And Anna and her friends have found that they are surprisingly good at it.
This is an engaging, feel-good rollercoaster of a story with enough emotional high climbs and steep dives to please the most exacting fans of the genre. Elaine Proctor handles her large cast of refreshingly original characters with deftness and humour, observing their very human interactions with writing that is as convincing as it is entertaining.
But there’s a huge and unexpected bonus: we get to read some of the Love Factory’s output, and this is high-quality merchandise indeed. While not quite One Thousand and One Nights or, more accurately, A Night in a Moorish Harem in terms of quantity, in terms of quality Proctor’s erotic writing is superb, and she brings an enjoyably different twist to her novel through these tantalising fragments of stories that, in turn, greatly expand the depth of her characters. A great big, warm-hearted, sexy, feast of a book: take it on holiday with your spouse or lover; be sure they read it, too.