AN AUTHOR from Mere has spent the past 14 years penning a new debut novel that should appeal to fans of Brideshead Revisited and The Secret History.

Clare Empson, a freelance journalist, has published her first novel, HIM, through Orion Publishing Group in London.

The novel, which came out in April, is described as ‘a compelling love story between two people, Catherine and Lucian, and a thought-provoking meditation on shame and silence’.

Clare said: “It has taken about 14 years to write and it went through about ten drafts before finally being accepted by Orion. It has three timelines: 15 years ago, four months previously and the present-day.”

Her novel was inspired by her stay in a rented cottage on a Wiltshire country estate near Salisbury after she and her family moved out of London. In HIM, Clare explores many themes as part of the narrative including trapped/ unresolved grief, childhood bereavement, female shame and silence, the ‘big kid’ generation, toxic friendships and obsessive love.

She explores the difference in attitudes and behaviours of those who ‘have’ money and the ‘have nots’ and the access to opportunities that upbringing and education can bring.

Clare adds: “The main characters are part a close-knit circle of friends whose lives are powered by secrets and the novel has quite a complex structure.

“I always had the beginning and the end but I don’t always know exactly what’s going to happen along the way.”

The 388-page novel is available at £7.99 and is available on Amazon. It is already being sold in the UK, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Poland and Portugal, and is going into France, Italy and Germany.

The publishers say that HIM is a mix of suspense and romance with a psychological accent, and is a nuanced and contemporary love story. They claim it is a dark and suspenseful novel and the perfect read for fans of Big Little Lies and 13 Reasons.

Its author, 51-year-old Clare Empson is married to Richard, with three children, Jake, 19, Maya, 17 and Felix, 11.The family moved from Clapham in London to Wiltshire about 12 years ago. She is also a journalist with a background in national newspapers.

She has worked as a small business editor, finance correspondent and fashion at the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Express.