We are thrilled to announce the shortlist for this year’s Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize. During deliberation, this year’s judges remarked upon the incredibly high-standard of submissions. With a stacked longlist, the shortlist teases out those entries that stayed with our judges, that kept them turning pages, and made them desperate to find out what happens next.
Here, in alphabetical order by author’s last name, is this year’s commendable shortlist:
The Emergence of Evelyn Pringle by Kate Galley
From the Author:
When Evelyn Pringle’s husband of fifty-five years is found dead in his car, making a journey she knows nothing about, with a diamond ring clearly not intended for her, Evelyn wants answers.
The discovery of a mysterious letter amongst his possessions leads the sheltered septuagenarian to break with the habits of a lifetime and take a solo trip to the Isle of Wight to deliver the letter in person. She imagines the coach trip will simply be the means to an end. She couldn’t be more wrong.
Fellow passengers Cynthia and Joy have their own reasons for taking the seasonal trip, but when the three women arrive to find the hotel a dump and Christmas preparations a shambles, they put their differences to one side and form an unlikely alliance. Together they work to salvage the festive season, and to finally unearth the truth behind Tony Pringle’s secret life.
The Way Back by Emma Gibbs
From the author:
Navigating early motherhood, Charlotte is gradually starting to get her marriage to Tom back on track when he is injured in a terrorist attack. The man who returns from hospital is a shadow of her husband – distant and emotional, he barely interacts with Charlotte or their baby and instead turns to Abby, the woman he credits with saving his life.
Knee-deep in the minutiae of life with a young baby, Charlotte struggles to retain a grip on her marriage – and on the truth. Is Tom having an affair, or is she so sleep deprived that life no longer feels as tangible as it once was?
Set against the clamour of new parenthood, The Way Back explores the changing dynamics of a marriage. It is about the effect a major event can have, not just on the people caught up in it, but on those that surround and support them.
The Girl in the Maze by Cathy Hayward
From the author:
The Girl in the Maze explores the complex relationship between four generations of women torn apart by familial sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy and the challenge of both mothering and being mothered. While sorting through her dead mother’s effects, Emma Bowen discovers a birth certificate for a baby her mother gave birth to as a teenager – a sister she never knew about. The clues her mother left behind will lead Emma on a journey from sleepy Sussex to rural Lancashire, through 1950s London, where she is forced to confront her family’s darkest secrets. Will her knowledge help her from making the same mistakes with her own daughter Libby or will history repeat itself? The Girl in the Maze is a painting which Margaret created in her late teens which changes hands throughout the story. Different characters perceive the girl as joyful or terrified depending on their own state of mind.
Tea Child by Ramya Jagatheesan
From the Author:
The Tea Mother watches over all her children, even the ones no longer on her shores. Even the ones who do not think of themselves as hers.
Sixteen-year old ‘coconut’ Durga belongs to two worlds, born in London but daughter to Sri Lankan parents. Her mother, Devi, doesn’t seem to belong to either world, having left her birthland to settle in Britain twenty years ago. When a family event brings both women to Sri Lanka, Devi realises that her childhood best friend has been missing since her son’s abduction, and mother and daughter travel the island to discover – or rediscover – who they are.
But the island wants to be known too – and soon, Durga starts to see the ghosts that haunt the beautiful and troubled country. Among them is the Tea Mother, spirit of the island, who follows the two women – but she has her own secrets to hide.
All the Trees in the Wood by Stephanie Percival
From the Author:
All the Trees in the Wood is a modern fairy tale, blending mystery and magical realism.
There are two mysteries central to Anna’s life; one is the disappearance of her father, when a teenager; the second is uncovering the true identity of a woman Anna saved from drowning, when a child. The woman had amnesia and Anna named her Lorelei after a character in a story book. For Anna, discerning the boundary between what is real and what is imaginary has always been difficult.
Lorelei becomes a celebrated popstar. Years later, after moving away, Anna returns to her home in Broomstone to write Lorelei’s biography. Anna discovers that the two mysteries entwine in unexpected ways. She needs to solve the truth about her father’s disappearance and uncover who Lorelei really is, to finally break free from the enchantment of her formative years.
The winner and runners-up will be announced on September 30th.