Black Swan, £6.99
'Things to do Indoors', Joughin's first novel, is set primarily in London in the mid-eighties and features a cast of eccentric characters. In the midst of these is twenty-something textile designer, Chrissie, who discovers that her sister is having an affair with her sort-of boyfriend, Nick. What follows is a typical voyage of discovery that sees Chrissie coming into contact with several odd people, while ultimately coming to grips with the turbulence of life.
Joughin is indiscriminate in her use of unusual personalities. Isa, Chrissie's artist sister, takes sharing to the limit when she sleeps with Nick; Nick seems to want whatever sister he's not with; emotionally insecure Geraldine tries to punish her boyfriend by stealing his favourite cat and free-spirited Crystal lives a more unsettled life than her eighteen-year-old daughter. Through her meetings with these people, among others, Chrissie somehow learns the skills she needs to keep her life on an even keel.
Though Joughin's geographical descriptions are spot-on, her reasoning behind Chrissie's actions is vague at best. Deciding to have a baby because you've never had one is typical of Chrissie's approach to things, but it's hardly realistic. Joughin's book is a strange amalgamation of the rooted physical world with the uncertain emotional one, but its effect is unsatisfactory.
'Things to do Indoors' is ultimately disappointing because of its failure to chart the emotional landscape as well as it charts the physical one. If Joughin had paid as much attention to reasoning her character's actions as to the geography of the book, this would have been a far more engrossing and enjoyable read.