Welcome to the OFFICIAL 'About The Author' page of:
Leslie Tate completed ‘Purple’ in 2015. Leslie is a trans person, similar to Eddie Izzard or Grayson Perry, who writes about modern love.
‘Purple’ the first part of Leslie’s trilogy, is a coming-of-age tale, set in 1969. It follows the story of Matthew Lavender who enters a ‘free love’ situation at college knowing absolutely nothing about sex or relationships. Through trial and error, Matthew discards his ‘cooler than thou’ mask and begins to relate as an adult.
The second novel, ‘Blue’, tells the story of Richard and Vanessa Lavender, who join a 90s feminist collective sharing childcare, political activism and open relationships…
In ‘Violet’, the third novel, The passionate, late-life love of Beth and James begins in 2003 on a blind date in a London restaurant. From then on they bond, exchanging love-texts, exploring sea walks and gardens and sharing their past lives with flashbacks to Beth’s rural childhood and her marriage to a dark, charismatic minister…
Leslie’s transgender memoir ‘Heaven’s Rage’ explores addiction, cross-dressing and the hidden sides of families, discovering at their core the transformative power of words to rewire the brain and reconnect with life. ‘Heaven’s Rage’ has been turned into a film.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leslie Tate studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and has been shortlisted for the Bridport, Geoff Stevens and Wivenhoe Prizes. He’s the author of the trilogy of novels, ‘Purple’, ‘Blue’ and ‘Violet’, as well as his trans memoir ‘Heaven’s Rage’, which has been turned into a film.
On his website https://leslietate.com/ Leslie posts up weekly creative interviews and guest blogs showing how people use their imagination in life, in many different ways. He also runs a comedy club, a poetry group and a mixed arts show in Berkhamsted, UK where he lives with his wife, children’s and adult author, Sue Hampton.
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Matthew Lavender, starting college in 1969, has embraced a student underworld of drugs, image and cooler than thou. But behind his wild and witty persona lies a shy, sensitive romantic – a ‘feeling type’ bullied at school and restricted by his parents – who knows absolutely nothing about sex.
As Matthew gets involved with fellow-student Sally, the scene shifts to the early 20th century and his grandmother Mary Lavender begins her story.
Brought up by an over-controlling father nicknamed ‘Jack the Hammer’, Mary witnesses her parents’ fierce, monosyllabic rows and the long-running battles between Jack and his children. After the defiant exit of Mary’s brother and sister, Mary meets Stuart Lavender and a traditional courtship begins, leading to the birth of Matthew’s father, Alan.
History repeats itself as Alan and Matthew clash and Matthew leaves home. He takes up residence at a commune where he witnesses some supremely laughable examples of 60s free self-expression. From here on he grows and matures through contact with children and a number of deeply-felt and unpredictable love affairs.
In the end Matthew returns to the beach where he played as a child with Mary. As the two stories come together, Matthew learns a whole new outlook on youth, relationships and the man he has become.
‘Purple’ is a delicate, detailed watercolour of a novel. It starts out with the shy and awkward student, Matthew, who is trying his hardest to look cool, clever and with-it. I really disliked Matthew at first but came to like him better as the novel progresses and he has his rough edges rubbed off by his relationships with different female characters, two of whom let him down very badly. He also meets adult role models and eventually comes to realise that his anxious, micro-managing parents were once young and extremely cool – and still can be. The novel has fabulous descriptive passages, some of which are very poetic. Leslie has given Matthew a number of well-written sex scenes showing his journey from the first awkward encounters to a full and passionate relationship. I enjoyed the scenes at the commune where Matthew discovers a muddy and chaotic world of dreadful poetry and worse art, controlled by a dictatorial leader who forces decisions on everyone and makes them believe it is the group’s will. He progresses from this world to the Colony, which is a family living an ordered and creative existence. The Colony leads him to his godmother and aunt, who in turn shows him who his parents really are. The story of Matthew’s grandmother Mary is interwoven with Matthew’s, and is a progress from tyrannical father to cold and unloving husband, before eventually finding fulfilment in her children and grandchildren. I’m looking forward to the next two novels in the series.
PURPLE is a novel for those who want to take in the scenery as they move amongst characters and observe their evolution. More Art-House than Blockbuster – thankfully – PURPLE, following the Great Tradition of the British novel, explores complexities of character against vivid background imagery, like York Minster which towers above Matthew and his companions, and the shores of Longsands, the power of the natural world. The stories of Matthew in Third Person and his grandmother Mary, in First Person, click together harmoniously; here we feel the versatility of the writer and his enjoyment of the craft, particularly in his wry and witty look at a Sixties commune. A great read.