My books

Starman

STARMAN is Lily’s most recent book, a hybrid memoir about her enduring love for a delinquent father, whose pursuit of transcendence took him from sex addiction, via the Rajneesh cult (of Wild Wild Country fame), to a relentless chase of money, which ended in ruin, and finally addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs. And yet there was something about him. A light that both exalted and destroyed him. When does the search for meaning turn sour? Does guilt of all harm caused, or disappointment at reality catching up at last, eventually erode even the most successful of men? Or was he simply a child, still, abandoned on the doorstep of his prep boarding school by aspirational working-class parents despite his cries to return home? It was here, aged just seven, that his fatal self-aggrandisement and compulsive lying began.

Essays from the memoir have been published by Granta, ‘The Fog and the Sea’ and ‘It’s Only Skin’; Aeon, ‘The Lost Children’; Litro ‘The Good Mother’ and The Real Story ‘New Year’s Eve’.

Editor, Gillian Stern describes it as compelling and full of compassion: ‘Lily writes so so beautifully and … I found myself deeply involved, attached, engaged and moved.’

Towards the Pebbled Shore

TOWARDS THE PEBBLED SHORE is a family drama set in a wilds of Cornwall. In the midst of a crisis, Isobel, her husband, Jonathan, and their two daughters go back to Rock House: a dilapidated ex-smuggler’s inn built onto an outcrop surrounded by the Cornish sea. Isobel is determined to free herself from the claustrophobia of her mothering and wifely responsibilities, particularly in the light of Jonathan’s recent betrayal, but her search for this long-lost freedom sets in motion a catastrophic chain of events. This is a story of our times, about a woman faced with the question of whether she should follow her own desires, or the needs of her family. All set against the terrifying summer storms that beat the coast.

Towards the Pebbled Shore distils those moments in life when everything comes into question: our obligation to others and to ourselves, against our bigger contribution to the world. In the light of Jonathan’s betrayal and Isobel’s awakening, she asks herself: for whom do we act? For ourselves or to please others? And can we trust our instincts to guide us? It is a modern dilemma: do we take a gamble with the hope of greater happiness for ourselves? And what happens when the gamble ends in disaster? How can you reassemble a life after the storms and the destruction of everything you hold most dear?

Shadowing the Sun

SHADOWING THE SUN is a story about the lasting impact of betrayal. We meet Sylvie as an adult on the cusp of settling down, but restless and finding it difficult to commit to fiancé Jack. She is also preparing to meet her father again after years apart, unable to move on from the events of one summer she spent with him in his commune just outside Florence when she was 12 years old. In deft and compelling prose, Lily Dunn tells the parallel stories of Sylvie’s present and past – the anxious week in London waiting for her father, and the summer in Italy that started so promisingly, but ended with such betrayal and loss of innocence.

‘A funny, harrowing and ultimately heartbreaking glimpse into the tribes of a lost continent: the children of the Seventies ‘Me’ generation, with their inheritance of wild freedom and poisonous neglect. I both laughed and cried. Seen through the cut-glass mosaic of Lily’s sharp perceptive talent, the book becomes something new: not just a recollection but a gift, to the past and to us. Full of a hard won, lonely kind of gratitude.’ Tim Guest, author of My Life in Orange.

‘A heart-rending account of a young girl’s loss of innocence… told in limpid prose, seeped in the prickly heat of a Tuscan summer.’ Time Out.

‘The sins of the father are mercilessly explored in Lily Dunn’s impressive and confident first novel.’ The Sunday Times.