Overall, Sonia 1973-
Overall, Sonia 1973-
Born March 30, 1973, in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England; daughter of Terry and Shirley Overall; married James Frost (an academic and artist), June 15, 2002. Education: University of Kent at Canterbury, B.A., M.A.
Home—Kent, England. Agent—Simon Trewin, United Agents Ltd., 130 Shaftesbury Ave., London W1D 5EU, England. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer. Worked variously as a bookseller, reviewer, and editor.
A Likeness, Fourth Estate (London, England), 2004.
The Realm of Shells, Fourth Estate (London, England), 2006.
Born in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, on March 30, 1973, Sonia Overall is an English writer. She earned a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Kent at Canterbury in English and philosophy. After convincing her professors to allow her to continue there and study creative writing, she earned a master of arts from the same university. She worked variously as a bookseller, reviewer, and editor before she started publishing novels of her own. Overall married James Frost, an academic and artist, in 2002.
In 2004, Overall published her first book, A Likeness, through London's Fourth Estate. The novel is set in Elizabethan England, featuring noblemen and ladies, courtesans and artists, and the peasantry and servants. The story intertwines drama and romance with deception and double-dealing. The story is narrated by an anonymous artist who studies at a conservative painting school. While yearning for recognition in the highly competitive market, he becomes obsessed with the image of a terrible accident he witnessed. His talent attracts the attention and love interest of the schoolmaster's mistress, a well-connected courtesan who admires paintings. Dark things begin to occur, however, when the two pair up.
Overall published her second novel, The Realm of Shells, in 2006. The novel deals with hidden treasure, childhood secrets, and shows the lengths different people go to protect what they perceive as valuable to them. Set in the upscale community of Margate in 1835, the story introduces the Newlove family and highlights their scheming and betrayals from the viewpoint of the youngest member of the family, Frances. She is both a product of her family and its sophisticated lifestyle, as well as a typical child, with the usual reactions a child would have to the affairs of her family. When her family relocates to Margate, the locals are initially distrusting of them, as they have come from the northern part of the country prior to their move. Frances tries to fit in, as does her family, but when an underground grotto is discovered, revealing riches, the family falls apart while trying to claim their stake.
Lorien Kaye, writing in Melbourne's the Age, found the story to be "heavily symbolic." Kaye added that in the book "loss of innocence is both a specific initiation into sexuality and a more general introduction to the corruption, dishonesty and betrayals" of the real world. D.J. Taylor, writing in the London Independent, commented that "while Fanny's voice, full of onomatopoeic accounts of household noise and incident, is thoroughly engaging, some of the best things here … are perhaps the least Victorian in character." Taylor concluded that "it may be that Overall will eventually come to regard the 19th century as a constraint on her very considerable imagination."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), May 13, 2006, Lorien Kaye, review of The Realm of Shells.
Independent (London, England), January 20, 2006, D.J. Taylor, review of The Realm of Shells.
Times Literary Supplement, January 27, 2006, Kate Salter, review of The Realm of Shells, p. 23.
PFD Web site,http://www.pfd.co.uk/ (March 13, 2008), author profile.