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Image / Living / Culture

Read an extract from ‘All Grown Up’ by Catherine Evans


By Sarah Gill
30th Aug 2023
Read an extract from ‘All Grown Up’ by Catherine Evans

An exploration of the murkiness of contemporary sex, none of the characters are spared in Catherine Evans’ second novel.

Catherine Evans was born in South Africa, and grew up in Swaziland and Malawi. The author of The Wrong’un, she has made her return to the writing world with All Grown Up, a novel that examines the early sexualisation of young girls and toxic masculinity amongst boys, confronting the reader with important questions about consent and underage sex.

Why do some young girls become sexually active early? If a man has sex with a girl who lies about her age, is he still culpable? If society is at fault for teaching both girls and boys a warped view of sex, who is to really blame when it goes wrong? All Grown Up is a brave, unflinching and gripping work from an exciting new voice in fiction.

Read an extract from the book below…

Catherine Evans

GILES

Giles is at work, but he’s taking a moment to surf Cartier’s website. He’s scrolling through trinket after trinket, imagining Neveah wearing each one, visualising the perfect gift. He can’t take too long about it though, as he’s got a number of calls to make and a meeting with a new client before he has lunch with his old friend, Bruce.

Christine’s incredible comeback is darkened by the knowledge that he will have to end things with Neveah.

He pushes the thought aside. He takes a sip of coffee as he considers. A ring would be in very poor taste, obviously. He deliberates between a gold chain with two interlocking ovals riveted with diamonds, and a gold bracelet, which will gleam brightly against her beautiful skin. ‘Yellow gold or rose gold: how far would you go for love?’ he reads on the website.

It’s a ridiculous question.

How much will you stake for lust? That would be more honest. As well as all the usual things a married man risks by having an affair, he’s dicing with Christine’s fragile recovery.

Christine wouldn’t leave him, he rationalises. She couldn’t. She can’t even leave the house by herself. She wouldn’t be able to cope without him. He recognises that banking on her dependency is actu- ally quite loathsome.

He loves her. So why can’t he ditch Neveah? Sooner or later, he’s going to have to do it.

He decides on the bracelet. This will be a goodbye present, not a love token. As he enters his details, he’s obliged to reveal his date of birth. He’s often shocked by how far he has to scroll down to find the year that he first appeared on the planet. He has never been concerned by his age before, but suddenly the weight of all those years is oppressive, and they sit in the forefront of his mind when he thinks of Neveah. Men have always been drawn to younger women, as if their very youth and glow were properties that could be assimilated, sucked in like a vampire draws blood. He understands that these powerful feelings are a trick of the genes. He’s read books about it. He opts to pick up the bracelet from Cartier on Old Bond Street. He can’t have it delivered, obviously.

So. A goodbye gift then, he tells himself firmly. What he’s doing is beyond stupid. She’s twenty-two, for Christ’s sake. When she reaches her thirties, the prime of her life, he’ll be past retirement, approaching his dotage. He has to end it. It’s a relationship that has no legs at all. But as soon as he talks any kind of sense into himself, he’s overwhelmed by the impossibility of walking away from her. She intoxicates him. Only senility will erase the memory of their first kiss. His PA, Julie, had gone home and they were alone in his office; she on an armchair, and him on a sofa. The charge between them had been growing for weeks. They’d been talking about Yoast and SEO rankings, when she’d abruptly stopped speaking. She had stood up and slowly stalked the distance between them and sunk wordlessly into his lap. When he thinks of her, it’s of a slow, knowing smile, that dimple, the feel of her in his arms. He’s got to finish it. He’ll do it soon, he promises himself, knowing it’s a lie.

All Grown Up will be published on 26 September