Bristol

Coronavirus: Book buddies aim to ease lockdown loneliness

Cally Taylor
Image caption Cally Taylor said readers were asking authors to recommend thrillers and not "happy, uplifting books"

A crime fiction writer has created an online book buddy group for '"readers in isolation" during the lockdown.

Best-selling Cally Taylor, who writes as C.L. Taylor, said: "With many people living alone, I wanted to offer readers an opportunity to find a new friend."

She has so far paired up a dozen readers to talk about her novel Strangers and said they loved the idea.

The thriller is set in Bristol and brings together three characters who were all experiencing loneliness.

Explaining how it would work, she said: "They get together themselves, now I have paired them up, and add each other as Facebook friends.

"When they both receive their copies of Strangers, they start reading and either message each other when they reach certain pages or chat when they reach the end."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The psychological thriller is set in a shopping centre and involves three strangers who are caught up together in a crime

The story is about three strangers whose lives "unexpectedly collide" when they are caught up in a crime that takes place in a shopping centre.

She said she had wanted to write about loneliness since her own experience nine years ago when she was pregnant and had just moved from Brighton to the West Country.

"When I moved to Bristol, all of my support systems were gone and it was very strange to be in an unfamiliar city," the author said.

"I couldn't pop to someone's house for a chat, or go to a pub or café where there'd be familiar faces.

"I felt very isolated and adrift, like I'd lost my anchor and obviously new motherhood was a shock," she said.

Image caption The book buddy pairs can discuss the book on Facebook

Since the lockdown started, she said, readers had been asking authors to recommend thrillers and not "happy, uplifting books".

"Maybe when the world is so unpredictable there's something reassuring about reading crime. Because we know, no matter how scary it gets, right always wins over wrong and the main character will survive.

"People think of crime books as being scary and gory but Strangers almost has an uplifting ending," she said.

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