I’m thrilled to have Wet Paint by Chloë Ashby on my TBR and even better, if you’re in the UK you could have Wet Paint on your reading pile too if you enter the fabulous giveaway I’ve been allowed to share today for the blog tour. You’ll find details below along with a cracking extract to whet your appetite. My enormous thanks to Alex Layt for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.
Published by Orion imprint Trapeze on 14th April 2022, Wet Paint is available for purchase through the links here.
Since the death of her best friend Grace, twenty-six-year-old Eve has learned to keep everything and everyone at arm’s length. Safe in her detachment, she scrapes along waiting tables and cleaning her shared flat in exchange for cheap rent, finding solace in her small routines.
But when a chance encounter at work brings her past thundering into her present, Eve becomes consumed by painful memories of Grace. And soon her precariously maintained life begins to unravel: she loses her job, gets thrown out of her flat, and risks pushing away the one decent man who cares about her.
Taking up life-modelling to pay the bills, Eve lays bare her body but keeps hidden the mounting chaos inside her head. When her self-destructive urges spiral out of control, she’s forced to confront the traumatic event that changed the course of her life, and to finally face her grief and guilt.
An Extract from Wet Paint
‘I can tell this is one of those days when you’re not going to say a word and I do all the talking. Which is fine – really. And anyway, if it wasn’t fine, would that make any difference?
‘It is harder when you go quiet, though, when it’s me doing all the work. Do you remember the day we both sat in total silence? That was terrible. I actually feel a bit sick. It’s hot in here, hotter than usual. Mind if I open a window? Thanks. That’s better, a breeze.
‘I’ve been thinking about what you said – that fear-of-abandonment thing. At first, I found it funny. I know, defence mechanism (I’m getting good at this). It just hadn’t occurred to me that I might be afraid of something I grew up with. Sort of like being an only child or missing a limb.
‘If I’m honest, yes, I suppose I have been a bit . . . what was the word you used? Compulsive. I know it sounded like stealing, but really it was just borrowing. The sex – that came earlier – probably was escapism. The drinking . . . Oh for fuck’s sake, sorry, can I have a tissue? I can’t blame Dad for everything, but I can blame him for the drinking.
‘Anyway, I’m doing it again – back to the timeline. That’s what you want, isn’t it ? I can’t seem to focus on the hours, days or weeks before. I just keep rushing forward to that moment. It was morning. We were going to catch a train. I wanted – Gah, sorry, I’m picking at your chair again. I know, it’s better than pulling at my cuticles. But still, I’d rather not leave your armrests looking like one of those cats – you know the ones I mean, with not enough hair and too much skin. Is it OK if I stand?
‘When we got to the station something snapped inside me – here, just under my ribs. In my head it sounded like cracking knuckles, the finger joints popping. I was tired and worried about what I’d done, worried I wouldn’t be allowed to see her again. I remember wondering if there was an alternate universe where all the people who stepped out of my life hang out together – I know, I know, abandonment – and if she’d end up there too.
‘People were getting off a train on the platform opposite. I remember taking a step towards the tracks and peering down at my feet. There was that yellow line. And then the nubby bit. Some grooves. A faded white stripe at the very edge. The edge of the abyss. God, that’s a bit dramatic, isn’t it? It’s funny how some things stay with you, though. Like these! How long have you had them? I’m pretty sure they had to wipe “mansize” from the box a couple of years ago. Because women blow their noses too. Sorry – tangent. Maybe if I sit down again.
‘When I looked up, the train was gone. There was another coming, this time on our side of the tracks. A speaker announced that it wouldn’t be stopping.
‘I know what you’re thinking: what was I doing there in the first place ? I probably told you I hadn’t been back since university. The truth is, I can’t remember making any decisions, I just felt I had no choice. I had to go back because that’s where it started so that’s where it had to end. But I never meant for the ending to look like that: me standing on a platform, toes sticking out over the tracks.
‘Honestly I don’t know why I’m smiling – obviously there’s nothing to smile about. Not a thing. It’s just, if you’d told me a year ago that I’d be sitting here, I’d have laughed.’
Isn’t that amazingly intriguing? I have to know more!
I’m delighted to be able to offer a hardbacked copy of Wet Paint by Chloë Ashby to one lucky UK reader. The giveaway ends at UK midnight on Tuesday 26th April. The winner will need to provide a UK postal address to receive their prize which will be sent from the publisher. No other personal details will be retained after the giveaway closes.
For your chance to win a copy of Wet Paint, click here.
About Chloë Ashby
Chloë Ashby is an author and arts journalist. Since graduating from the Courtauld Institute of Art, she has written for publications such as the TLS, Guardian, FT Life & Arts, Spectator and frieze. Wet Paint is her debut novel.