I was really pleased to be sent a copy of Lynsey May’s debut novel Weak Teeth earlier this year. Huge thanks to Kathryn at Polygon Books for sending me a copy. I was particularly excited about this one as Lynsey used to be on the organising team of Portobello Book Festival, which I’m also involved in, so I’ve known her for a while. The book is set in Edinburgh and I do love a book with a local setting. I was at the launch for the book last night at my local indie bookshop, The Portobello Bookshop, and it was great to hear Lynsey talking about the book with Jenni Fagan in front of a sell-out audience.
Here’s what the book is about
Ellis’s life has crumbled without warning. Her boyfriend has fallen in love with someone else, her job’s insecure, her bank account’s empty and she has a mouthful of unreliable teeth. Forced back to her childhood home, there is little in the way of comfort. Her mum is dating a younger man (a dentist, no less) and is talking of selling the house, her sister, Lana, is furious all the time, and a distant cousin has now arrived from the States to stay with them.
During a long, hot Edinburgh summer, Ellis’s world spins out of control. She’s dogged by toothache, her ex won’t compensate her for the flat and somehow she’s found herself stalking his new lover on Facebook.
Will Ellis realise before it’s too late that the bite she was born with is worth preserving?
How many of us have those awful dreams where our teeth are falling out or crumbling in our mouths? It’s a really common dream and is thought to represent anxiety. Poor Ellis certainly had plenty to be anxious about. Her relationship has unexpectedly come to an end, she’s had to go back to live with her mum, she’s concerned about her job and she genuinely does have problems with her teeth. To add insult to injury, her mum is dating a dentist!
Poor Ellis has had some awful experiences with dentists throughout the years, beginning with the school dentist, something many people will relate to. It’s no surprise that she is wary of them while accepting she needs to go to the dentist. Her family are cursed with weak teeth and no matter how Ellis tries to look after hers, she has continual problems. As anyone who has had toothache will know, it’s a pain that consumes you and takes over your thoughts. Ellis knows all about teeth and I also know a lot more than I did before. (Thanks Lynsey for the mention of a paco fish which I’ve looked up and now can’t unsee!) If you have a bit of a phobia of dentists, this might not in all honesty be a book for you as teeth and dentistry play a big part in the book. I am lucky as my dentist is lovely and I never have any fear of going to see her.
Lynsey May has created a very relatable character in Ellis. Her sense of bewilderment at how things have turned out is both believable and funny. How could Adrian be in love with someone else, they’ve just bought new cushions?! The loss of her father at a young age has clearly been significant throughout her life which many people will understand.
To read this book is to watch Ellis make one unwise decision after another as she tries to cope with the changes in her life. You almost want to reach into the book and say ‘don’t do that!’. Like her teeth, Ellis sometimes seems fragile and in need of care and attention.
Weak Teeth is darkly funny, compelling and enjoyable. It’s a great debut from Lynsey May showing she’s got a talent for writing about the dynamics of relationships.
If you like the sound of this book, you’ll find more info and
buying links on the Polygon website here: Weak Teeth.
You can also order a signed copy from Portobello Bookshop: Weak Teeth
About the Author
Lynsey May lives, loves and writes in Edinburgh. She won first place in the Fresh Ink novel contest in 2020, a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2013, a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2015 and a spot as Cove Park’s Emerging Scottish Writer in 2016. Her short fiction has been published in various journals and anthologies, including The Stinging Fly, Gutter, New Writing Scotland and Banshee. Weak Teeth is her first novel.
One thought on “Weak Teeth by Lynsey May | #bookreview | @polygonbooks @LynseyMay”
I hate the teeth dream, don’t hate the sound of this book however 😂