Mary Loudon’s highly-charged debut novel My House is Falling Down bravely explores honesty in relationships and what infidelity means when no one is lying, through the love triangle between Lucy, her husband Mark and artist Angus. Here, Mary discusses why she was drawn to these themes and her motivations behind writing the novel.
“Why did you write My House Is Falling Down?”
Because I wanted to explore
What a love triangle can look like – morally, emotionally, psychologically and sexually - when deceit is removed from the equation. (Most people whose partners fall in love with someone else say it was that the lying and subterfuge that broke them.)
How different people negotiate the stormy waters of mid-life.
Who you might become if you were allowed to love two people at the same time; if you were, in effect, able to live two lives.
The intricacies of love and sex in a way that was fresh for me as a writer, and hopefully, for readers.
The risks and rewards of facing your own weaknesses rather than hanging on to self-delusions.
What it costs a couple fully to accept joint responsibility for the health of their relationship.
Because I am fascinated by
The collision between an overwhelming urge to be truthful to your partner and the overwhelming urge to be with someone else.
The myriad ways in which people in couples shut themselves in, and keep themselves from one another.
Men! Men who love and men who make compromises for love; men who do not behave as we expect them to; men who take a different view of what it is to be strong; men who challenge our expectations and thereby reveal our prejudices about them.
Women! Women who are smart, flawed, prickly, restless; women who are neither victims nor heroines, neither naïve nor wholly resolved; stable women who find themselves undone; loving women who are not always lovable.
Because I am troubled by
The shortness of life: how much do we have a right to fit into it?
Death: it buggers things up, all the time.
The fact that couples are as various as the people who comprise them, and yet we are quick to chide those who do not reflect back at us what we feel safest looking at.
Because I know
People fall in love all the time and when it is inconveniently-timed and unsought, it is especially hard to handle.
There are too many clichés and reductions in our culture – like the cheating husband and the abandoned wife. I wanted to challenge that.
That isolated people often end up isolating those closest to them, without meaning to, without realising.
Because I believe
The sense of being trapped whilst in the thick of life, love and parenting, is not confined to men.
That despite the above, women are judged more harshly when they transgress, especially if they are mothers.
We are living at a time when self-justification masquerades as openness: veracity runs counter to that and is richer and more interesting.
That despite our (relatively) liberal values in Britain, we need to improve the quality of our conversations about natural fallibility and the inclination to love. Only when we do that will we stand a hope of being truly civilised; for being civilised depends upon tolerance, understanding and evidence, not cheap condemnation and ready verdicts.
It is my purpose and responsibility as a writer to start conversations that we generally struggle to have. Above all, I want to provide readers with somewhere private and reflective to go, where they may consider their own lives, loves, questions, flaws and dilemmas, without judgment.
Because I hope
It might help anyone who has ever loved and found loving complicated at times.
Because I am drawn to
Those late-night questions: who are we? Why are we? What’s it all for?
And because I always have and always will
Want to write about the things that make us feel most alive, most fully-connected, and most alone.