Jo Verity has had short stories, poems and articles published or broadcast on Radio 4. She won the Richard & Judy Short Story prize in 2003, the "Western Mail" short story competition, was shortlisted for the Asham Award, and was a runner-up in the 2008 Mslexia International Poetry Competition and a finalist in the Mslexia International Short Story Competition 2009.
In her latest novel, award-winning writer Jo Verity brings together two very mismatched people Vivian: cool, composed, successful career as an architect, and Gil: disorganised, impulsive and financially stretched They meet when a car bomb explodes and Vivian takes the lonely, highly religious and rather dull Irene to the hospital where Gil works as a photographer. They are drawn together by a mutual admiration for each others calm capability in the face of a crisis and by their growing aversion to Irenes heavy-handed match-making and intrusion into their lives. Left and Leaving is a delicate and thoughtful novel that slips us easily into the lives of Vivian and Gil and the part of London where they live. The crowded practicalities of travel and day-to-day life in the busy capital are one of the bedrocks of the book, fixing it in real time and space. As she becomes more involved with Gil, Vivian leaves her long-term, half-hearted relationship with Nick a man whose ambition and detachment equal her own. This is the only leaving in the book which passes without serious repercussions. Both Nick and Vivian are singularly unaffected by each others departure. Gil also has to come clean with Feray, who hes been seeing in a drop-in kind of way for months. Her pain and anger flare and singe him. But it is the long-term departures and absences that have caused the most damage to the characters in this novel from Vivians distant and detached father, whose death is hardly more of an absence, to Gils abandonment of his family in Australia, and the hurt and anger resonating through his children as they reach maturity. The absence of love and attachment of any real depth is obvious in both Gils and Vivians lives, and it is only through meeting each other and helping each other with the obstacles that life throws at them from the increasingly cloying Irene to the gruff defensiveness of Vivians father that they are able to re-engage with themselves and see clearly that their denial of their own real feelings has led them to accept circumstances which are not conducive to emotional growth or well-being. As ever, Jo Verity writes with a subtle and accurate pen the intermingling of her characters brings a series of events into being which lead to a leap of self-knowledge for both Vivian and Gil. For Vivian this means a huge sense of freedom and lightening. For Gil it means a resumption of responsibilities he has been running from but can no longer evade. Lucy Walter It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council