Through The Wall: pitfalls of urban living and comparison culture at heart of Caroline Corcoran's first book
PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:14 08 October 2019
Set in a block of flats with thin walls and prying neighbours, Caroline Corcoran's new book tells the story of Lexie and Harriet - two women in their thirties leading very different lives in spite of their close proximity.
Through The Wall - released by Harper Collins on Thursday of last week - is Corcoran's debut novel, a "compelling, heart-racing thriller" rich with themes of envy, loneliness and society's unshakable addiction to compare every aspect of our lives with other people's.
"They live next door to each other, and the walls are pretty thin," explains Corcoran, a decorated journalist with bylines in Stylist, Grazia, Marie Claire and The Guardian to name just a handful.
"It works using their alternative points of view, with one chapter from Lexie, then we go to Harriet. [What they hear] is all muted through the wall, it's all bits and pieces that they cobble together to create a picture of what they think the other woman's life is like.
"It's a commentary on what we do in 2019 generally; [creating] these skewed perspectives from small windows in to other people's lives. We decide what their lives are like, decide that it's better than ours, or more successful, we look at each other online, [and] build these pictures.
"Meanwhile, both characters have got their own things going on, they project on to each other and it builds from there to a dark obsession."
Through The Wall is set in Islington; an area that the author knows well having spent 13 years living in Essex Road before relocating to the Wirral to raise her young family. Corcoran wrote the majority of her first book in the North West, but the idea for the novel came from when she was living in comparable conditions to Lexie and Harriet.
"I started writing the book in Islington," she explains, "because I lived in a similar apartment block, where I could hear bits and pieces through the wall. Nothing as interesting [as the content of the book], but it gave me the gem of an idea.
"I definitely did take myself back there. I was there for a long time, so it's pretty vivid. Urban living is often very anonymous. I know my neighbours now and I speak to them, but I didn't in Islington."
With early reviews likening Through The Wall to Gone Girl (according to Stylist) and Girl on the Train (The Guardian), Corcoran's first book is naturally going to interest those who love a thriller. It's also a good option for Islingtonians, given that "there's a strong sense of place in the book.
"A key part of the book is being in zone one; being somewhere so busy but where you also feel isolated. [Local readers will] recognise lots of different things and reference points - I know I always enjoy it when things are referred to that I know."
Corcoran is buoyant at having her first book published and a second is set to follow in 2020. What exactly does this mean to her?
"It's absolutely huge. My dream has always been to write a book. That phone call [where she was told she had a book deal] is etched in my memory forever, it gives me goosebumps even now. I can't play it cool about that!"
Corocoran wants her readers to become fully engrossed in Lexie and Harriet's second-guessing of one another, to the point where "people miss their bus stop because they're glued to it.
"It's quite an emotional book, hopefully people will find something that resonates - that comparison culture, [or] urban living. I think Through The Wall straddles the psychological thriller and literary fiction market. That commentary about being young and living in a city, and all of the things and emotions which that entails."
Through The Wall by Caroline Corcoran is out now. For more details, click here.