A Formative Year by Kate Hamlyn

Meeting an old love brings flashbacks, an understanding of how the past has created the present, and how memory deceives us.

As a teenager in the 1970s Lucy has an intense love affair with her cousin Leo - it ends unhappily, and she feels marked by its failure and the rejection she felt as well as the politics and feminism of the time.

Meeting him again after many years, she is shocked and delighted at how she feels about him. Somehow her feelings won't leave her alone and they nag away at her while she tries to uncover the truth about her love for him, and how to deal with her sense of 'unfinished business'.

Humorous, allusive and thoughtful - it has something to say to anyone who has ever loved and lost.

- o - o - o -

NB I have had many helpful comments on the first part of the book - if you can bear to, please look at later sections, which are rather different, and may need more input.

  • Classification: Universal
  • Work is: Fully available on Authonomy
  • First submitted March 30, 2010
  • Last updated March 30, 2010
A Formative Year
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  • Darugh's avatar
    Darugh wrote 4 years, 10 months ago
    I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. and arose to finish this book, this marvelous work. I think I have backed it months ago mainly due to your passage about fingers entwining. I am backing it again now and hope it counts again. You write beautifully. You have "nailed" so many things - romantic love, Jungian images and thoughts, women pretending to be satisfied and doing things to please the "beloved", and - last of all - the twisted way our ...
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  • Retired user
    rab14 [Retired] wrote 5 years, 2 months ago
    Stampman Group Review. HI Kate. The content of this story is one women in particular will like, as it describes emotions such as the first kiss in way that is appealing. I found the narrative very poetic in places and parts of it very well written. nit pics THe overly long paragraphs in the first chapter might be broken up with dialogue to improve the flow. For instance when Leo introduces his wife I would have prefered to have heard ...
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  • Retired user
    plip wrote 5 years, 2 months ago
    Read ch 10 - Far too much exposition for my taste, I'm afraid. Both characters in this chapter give each other information which both already know, purely to fill the reader in. There is a need for each to remind the other of long-past events and circumstances certainly, but the effect to me is a high degree of info-dump. Well written and with a great deal of analysis of feelings and relationships, but unrealistic and stilted dialogue. Your first paragraph ...
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  • M. A. McRae.  's avatar
    M. A. McRae. wrote 5 years, 2 months ago
    Stampman Group Review. It was interesting that you used 1st person to speak of the present, and then Lucy refers to herself as 'Lucy' when she thinks or or remembers the past. I found this book a mixture. Opening with a bible reference irritated me slightly, and then there was a truly wonderful turn of phrase, 'encrusted with the barnacles of dead consequences.' This is quite definitely 'literary fiction,' which means that I am the wrong person to try and ...
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  • SusieGulick's avatar
    SusieGulick wrote 5 years, 2 months ago
    Dear Kate, I love how you put me right in your story to feel what your heroine is feeling - great job. :) Your pitch is excellent, so set the hook for me to read your book. :) When you use short paragraphs & lots of dialogue, it makes me want to keep reading to find out what's going to happen next. I'm backing your book. :) Could you please take a moment to back my TWO memoir books? Thanks, ...
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  • Acorok's avatar
    Acorok wrote 5 years, 2 months ago
    Critiqued as part of the Stampman Group Hello, Kate! I like your book title, but I have to say the generic cover is a bit of a turn-off. I don’t have an official cover, just uploaded an image to represent the book, so I’d advise this to make it stand out a little more. It like your short pitch, except for the word “brings;” it doesn’t sit right. The synopsis reads well until you hit “as well as the politics ...
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  • Sly80's avatar
    Sly80 wrote 5 years, 3 months ago
    This is one of those subjects that awakens memories in almost all of us. The 'what ifs' of old romances, especially first love. What an extremely clever trick of using the Latin poem to express Lucy's feelings, and then have her counterpoint it with 'so bleeding obvious'. Lucy is ... well ... intelligent but a bit scatterbrained and not exactly honest with herself, 'It's over thank God'. The younger Lucy is precocious and fanciful, and ripe to fall, hard. Some ...
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  • Innumerate's avatar
    Innumerate wrote 5 years, 3 months ago

    This is very sensitively written and of high literary quality. I am not sure about the time changes, I'd have to read it properly and at length. Backed and enjoyed.

  • Lara's avatar
    Lara wrote 5 years, 3 months ago
    Chapters 8 and 11 I think it's fine for her to analyse her romantic feelings and struggle to determine who and how she should be. 8 does read disjointedly and this may be cured by following one incident and the accompanying thoughts more thoroughly before moving to another scene. Btw, better to refer to Freud's theory by saying 'slip of the tongue, bound to happen now, according to Freud' or something like that, rather than quote the title which rather ...
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  • StampMan's avatar
    StampMan wrote 5 years, 3 months ago
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  • William Holt's avatar
    William Holt wrote 5 years, 3 months ago
    NB: NOT MY COMMENT. LOOK AT THE END. Congratulations. You have the vocabulary, the insight, the imagination, and powers of expression to compose beautiful Literary Fiction with much depth, offset by a nice, light touch of humour. I know you want remarks on your later chapters (which, by Authonomy standards, I'm assuming is Chapter 3+) but a line I did notice on the first page "He is short, bearded with a slightly shambolic appearance which masks his intellectual acuity", might ...
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  • StampMan's avatar
    StampMan wrote 5 years, 3 months ago
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  • StampMan's avatar
    StampMan wrote 5 years, 3 months ago

    I've browsed your book - and was sure very quickly that I would be backing it. I might have stumbled into an intelligent and highly competent writer here.
    Late night. More comments to come on the weekend.

  • eloraine's avatar
    eloraine wrote 5 years, 3 months ago

    Beautifully written, I loved it, good luck. E.Loraine Royal Blood Chronicles book one

  • mongoose's avatar
    mongoose wrote 5 years, 3 months ago
    Kate, hi.....I jumped to Chapter Eight which, of course, did leave me slightly in limbo. But I found myself getting massively hacked off with the ghastly Bill - hackles rose from the moment he pushed the sex issue. So you're doing something very right - I believed in the characters totally. Interesting as there is a slight distancing in the way you write the sections in the past - natural in some ways, as it is remembered, but nonetheless I ...
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  • Gail_M's avatar
    Gail_M wrote 5 years, 3 months ago

    I've only read the first chapter, but I love this! Your narrative style is delightful, and you describe Lucy's world very convincingly. I'm backing it now, but plan to read the rest as time allows.
    All the best

  • Author apart from the rest's avatar
    Author apart from the rest wrote 5 years, 3 months ago


    My first reaction to your plug and introduction: WOW! The idea of Lucy having, as you put it, "an intense love affair with her cousin Leo" is very seductive and draws the reader in. I believe your idea is working because the 60's and 70's were the years, in my opinion, of breaking free of the old traditions. I am very excited for you and believe this book has great potentianl.



  • A Knight's avatar
    A Knight wrote 5 years, 3 months ago

    Lucy is a gorgeous main character, and the reflective, gentle nature of this piece is beautiful to see.

    Backed with pleasure.
    Abi xxx

  • Amylovesbooks's avatar
    Amylovesbooks wrote 5 years, 3 months ago

    Beautifully written prose, and overall a reflective piece that causes the reader to think about love and what it all means. Backed with pleasure.

    Love Match

  • crazy mama's avatar
    crazy mama wrote 5 years, 3 months ago

    This is beautifully written. What woman could not relate to Lucy? perfect and backed.