Many people will know Emily Woof’s work as a film and television actor, but she has also written widely for stage, screen, radio and cinema. In The Whole Wide Beauty, her first novel, she tackles themes of loss, compromise, passion and the human need to engage.
Former dancer Katherine, married with a small child and a part-time job, is drifting through life. When she meets Stephen, a poet and friend of her father’s, she embarks on an affair with him, more for the sake of reigniting something elemental in herself than anything stronger. Katherine’s father, meanwhile, has secrets and sadnesses of his own, which he is trying to suppress by throwing himself into a fundraising job.
In a candid article for the Observer in March 2010, Woof wrote of her initial feelings of uncertainty about the film world, her conversion and passion for it, and, finally, her disillusionment. ‘In general,’ she wrote, ‘I slipped further and further from myself.’ Woof has channelled this experience into Katherine, ‘adrift in her life, alienated from a deeper part of herself.’ It is a feeling with which many will empathise.