In her lyrical debut novel, Paul, the poet Daisy Lafarge turns a precise eye on the ways in which social pressure to be a ‘good’ woman can constrict us. The narrator, Frances, is adrift and unsure of who she is. She is a recent medieval history graduate who has left the archive to volunteer on eco-farms in France. Her story unfolds in a fast-paced succession of scenes and conversations punctuated by vivid imagery and rich symbolism.
The novel opens with Frances meeting Paul, a farmer with striking similarities to Paul Gauguin. He has travelled in the South Pacific and incessantly recounts exoticised tales of these travels. Across the book’s three precise sections, Frances falls into a relationship with Paul, drifts away and then comes