(Gillian M. Greenwood)
Education: Oxford University, graduate.
Home— London, England. Agent— Judith Murray, Greene & Heaton, 37 Goldhawk Rd., London W12 8QQ, England.
Writer, editor, and novelist. Worked in television production. South Bank Arts Show, executive producer.
Satisfaction: A Novel(novel), Shaye Areheart Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Former editor,Literary Review.
Gillian Greenwood is a novelist, television producer, and former magazine editor. In her debut,Satisfaction: A Novel, Amy and James Marsham are a married couple who seem to have everything they want, including a perfect marriage, good health, financial success, and bright prospects for the future. As the novel opens, Amy visits psychologist Patrick McIlhenny to seek treatment for a peculiar condition: "an excess of happiness." Despite appearances, however, Amy's life is not a well-apportioned banquet of joy. James had visited Patrick some years before, and she is curious to find out why. Within the seemingly stable orbit of the couple's friends and family is Archie, James's oldest and closest friend, who is suffering a serious health crisis. Archie is also close friends with Amy, though their budding sexual attraction doesn't concern them.
Elsewhere in Amy's life are family members who appear outwardly successful but who have somehow fallen short of their goal of true satisfaction. Thea, Amy's twin sister, is successful and prosperous in Los Angeles, but seems more suited to humanitarian work. Younger sister Grace, a talented actress, contents herself with a role in a popular soap opera, when she has the clear potential for greater dramatic achievements. The sisters' mother, Lucy Fielding, is an advice columnist whose platitudes and homespun counsel conceal a painful secret involving her late husband and an unresolved betrayal. Satisfaction may well exist for these characters, but in Greenwood's telling, happiness can quickly evolve into unexpected problems.
" Satisfaction is about the delicate nature of unfulfilment, a neat dissection of the beauty of missed trains in a social milieu in which everyone knows an uncomfortable amount about everyone else's desires," commented Nigel Williams in the Observer. However, "as the novel progresses, we learn that Amy's contentment has been bought at a price," Williams continued.
In explaining the genesis of the novel, Greenwood told Michael Leonard in an interview posted on Curled Up with a Good Book: "I've always been intrigued by the extent to which ‘wanting more’ can destroy people's lives, people who outwardly appear to have enough, indeed do have enough—enough money, enough love—though clearly in the novel, and in life, there are people for whom nothing feels enough and the moral journey is to come to terms with that."
Though the novel deals strongly with ideas of marriage and family and the obligations those bring on,Satisfaction also explores themes of friendship in its various forms. Greenwood sees marriage itself as a powerful form of bonding between friends. "A marriage can be satisfying for a long time without much other than friendship going for it, but a marriage without friendship is intolerable," she remarked to Leonard. Greenwood further observed: "I think in friendship we have to forgive. Friends will let us down some of the time, as we will them, but it's usually worth struggling to maintain a friendship. The best ones are the old ones. Time adds something marvelous to friendship, not least a reflected humanity."
Summarizing the novel in a Booklist review, Jen Baker stated: "This ultimately uplifting story reminds us to appreciate the moment and the people in it." Williams called Satisfaction an "entertaining and beautifully constructed first novel."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 2007, Jen Baker, review of Satisfaction: A Novel, p. 21.
Books, June 2, 2007, Kristin Kloberdanz, review of Satisfaction, p. 9.
Bookseller, September 2, 2005, "Murray Gets Satisfaction," p. 15.
Observer(London, England), July 16, 2006, Nigel Williams, "The Hell of Living in the Comfort Zone," review of Satisfaction.
Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2007, review of Satisfaction, p. 37.
Times Literary Supplement, August 4, 2006, "Sisters and Lovers," review of Satisfaction, p. 20.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (October 28, 2007), Michael Leonard, interview with Gillian M. Greenwood, and review of Satisfaction.