Vicky Foster is one very capable writer and Bathwater is a very personal story. Using her own real-life experience of what happens when violence spills over into family life, Bathwater is a gripping, ever-twisting, often moving, somewhat shocking and often agonising piece of work. Rather than a cathartic over-share, however, Foster goes way beyond writing what she knows in order to craft something that is simultaneously hard-hitting and poetic. She has written a work of literary beauty, despite the harsh and uncomfortable subject matter, combining prose, poetry and dialogue.
There’s a sense of urgency to the storytelling here, an urge to take this to the wider public when given the chance, because this is very important territory for a writer, and specifically this writer, to chart. Yet the desire to tell it like it was, and is, doesn’t get in the way of writing something that is also entertaining and blurs the lines of fact and fiction, as the character Vicky, and her son Joseph, both attempt to come to terms with the violent man that was in their lives, and how to move on from the past, their humanity and personalities intact, and build a future.
Translating experiences into fiction and poetry is not a simple business, but Foster has the skills and talent to do it, and do it well. She also writes with one eye on what she’d hope to experience, which is another part of the engine that drives this bold, brave and vital work.
This is as bold a line in the sand as a writer can make to announce their arrival. Given her enormous talent and ability to weave a piece of work so well, there’ll be plenty more to come from Foster’s experience-fuelled imagination as she strides, confidently, into the literary and poetic world.