The winner of the fourth Paul Torday Memorial Prize (2022) for the best debut novel by an author 60 or over is Jane Fraser for Advent (Honno Press).
Advent tells the story of Ellen, who in 1904 has returned to her Gower village from the hustle and bustle of Hoboken, New Jersey. News of her father’s increasing frailty has brought her reluctantly home. Her younger twin brothers are hoping that she can talk some sense into the increasingly drink sodden subsistence farmer. As the weeks and months pass Ellen’s own history and the issues that led to her departure for the USA are revealed. She is a modern woman making her way in the new 20th century and isn’t prepared to sacrifice herself to the expectations of duty and tradition.
Advent is Ellen’s story and the story of a generation of young women who finally began to take hold of the reins of their own lives, not bowing down to their menfolk and staying tied to home and hearth in spite of their own desires and ambitions.
Judge Donald S. Murray said ““A well-deserved winner, it is an outstanding tale, made all the more unforgettable and powerful by its remarkable hush and restraint”.
The runner up was Michael Mallon, for his debut novel The Disciple (Zuleika).
Jane Fraser wins £1000 and a complete set of Paul Torday novels. Both winner and runner up will be celebrated at the Society of Authors Awards Ceremony at Southwark Cathedral on 1st June.