Supper Club is about the often strange grey areas of female friendship, taking up space, women and food, and appetites. It centres on a character called Roberta, whom we first meet at university – during a time in which she is literally and figuratively reducing herself. We then meet her again ten years later, in the throes of a tempestuous and often unhealthy friendship with her colleague Stevie. Together they come up with the idea of Supper Club: a secret society of women who throw wild, all-night, Bacchanalian-inspired feasts, eating until they literally throw up, consciously gaining weight to take up space in the world.
Roberta is someone who confines herself to the margins of a room, who strives to take up as little space as possible. The novel has two timelines, visiting Roberta first as she begins university and starts making her way in the world, and then again, ten years later.
It is set is an unnamed city, though there are lots of clues it is set in the North of England. One of the main ideas that led me to begin writing Supper Club was investigating a sort of primal-scream theory regarding what might happen if instead of resisting something you are made anxious by, you did the opposite, leaned into it to an almost egregious extent.
Questions for Readers
Many books, television shows and films are recently exploring the complexities of female friendship – why do you think that might be?
Food can be regenerative, restorative, delicious; likewise, it can be shame and guilt-inducing, anxiety-inducing – why do you think it is so hard for us, and particularly women, to have a straight-forward or more neutral relationship with food?
In writing Supper Club I was interested in the different ways women take up space – literally and figuratively – and even in how I take up space as an author on the page. Do you think women are encouraged to take up less space?
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
Who Will Run The Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore
Hunger by Roxane Gay
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado