The Halt During the Chase

Rosemary Tonks

Nobody writes about angsty women like Tonks.

Daniella Fishman, The Millions

Finally back in print, a remarkable, hilarious coming-of-age novel from the cult classic writer Rosemary Tonks

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The Halt During the Chase

Fiction by Rosemary Tonks

Sophie—a clever and charming young woman—is trying to get out from under her mother’s thumb. She’s in love with her childhood friend Philip (pragmatic, attractive, a bit of a bore), but she often worries that she loves him too much for her own good, and that he might only be another thumb to crawl under.

Both a sincere bildungsroman of Sophie’s attempt to seize a life for herself and a comic masterpiece with cutting observations and asides, The Halt During the Chase is flutteringly alive as it discusses different forms of love, adulthood (“Isn’t buying new lampshades a form of slow death?”), marriage, insecurity, and stifling British snobbery and classism. Sophie’s voice, fueled by Tonks’s acidic narration, evolves from thrashing about in various traps into a triumphant, croaky-throated liberation song.

Paperback(published Oct, 03 2023)

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Portrait of Rosemary Tonks

Rosemary Tonks

English poet and writer

Nobody writes about angsty women like Tonks.

Daniella Fishman, The Millions

A clever, fishy little novel...all voice, half poetry and half snarl.

Mary Marge Locker, The New York Times

For Tonks, love is its own thing, separate from both sex and its inverse, marriage, a dreaded vulnerability that could strike at any moment if one enjoys life a little too much.

Audrey Wollen, The New Yorker

Writing like this—a bit of Rhys, a bit of Knut Hamsun, a bit of Wyndham Lewis, a bit of Muriel Spark, overlaying the everlasting Shakespeare/Austen/Brontë/George Eliot marriage drama—is far too beautiful and accomplished to be kept off the shelf. It catches like nothing else the smogs, the rodentine genes, the murky post-War grays, the lurking sexual violence of London, between Hangover Square and Carnaby Street.

Michael Hofmann, Poetry magazine

This is an exaggeratedly domestic novel, whose action unfolds in rooms gorged with furniture and objects, all brimming with meaning. Sophie knows how her mother is feeling based on the pitch of her iron’s hiss; clocks are always ticking or being wound when Philip is near or on the mind—he himself “had a clock buried in his flesh.” These objects, furnishings, and many, many articles of clothing are described with tender care and in vivid color.

Ania Szremski, 4Columns

If Tonks’s literary career was on its deathbed when she wrote The Halt, her style was still brilliantly alive…The liquidity of Tonks’s sentences, the deftness of her humor, makes it hard to understand how writing became such a source of torment for her. Tonks left us with this odd child, this Frankensteined novel—a trembling, emotional, sensitive bildungsroman stitched inside a flashy comic-novel facade.

Leo Lasdun, Los Angeles Review of Books

Graceful prose, a devastatingly good ear for dialogue, a marvelous way with supporting characters—Sophie's mother, Philip's father, and their wise friend Pussy are carefully etched gems—and a sensibility which probes beneath her surface wit make Ms. Tonks a writer to conjure with.

Publishers Weekly