Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Amy Tollyfield
Brixton Nights

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Brixton Nights by Amy Tollyfield: official book blurb

Brixton Nights is the third book and first novella by acclaimed, twice-published poet, Amy Tollyfield. Brixton Nights charts the life of a young lesbian woman named Christina who once lived in Brixton and now lives in Hull. The book follows her tempestuous journey through young adulthood and into early adult life, including many losses and heartaches along the way. Working-class, female and gay, Christina has the odds stacked against her, before she and her rebellious brother Kyle are given a new home with a kind lady named Simone. But will Christina get the happy ending she so sorely deserves? And will she ever meet Mum again? Read this amazing and harrowing novella to find out.

Brixton Nights is a coming-of-age novella, telling a familiar story of truth, pain and family. Sometimes our most uncomfortable relationships are the ones that teach us the most.

Praise for Amy’s poetry (Toy Soldiers): ‘A conflicted portrait of longing, angst, and self-assertion’ – Kirkus Reviews ‘Throughout the collection I found that Tollyfield was able to craft poems that were immediately immersive and evocative … [A collection] that entices you back’ – LoveReading UK ambassador

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.75 out of 10


Plot/Idea:  Tollyfield's impactful story centers on Christina, who comes of age in a troubled home in a working class area of England. In adulthood, as a 30-something lesbian woman, she remains unfulfilled and unable to fully commit to a relationship, continually pursued by the heavy toll from her youth. Though the narrative unfolds quietly, the story remains hard-hitting and emotionally candid. 

Prose: Told in the first-person—through flashbacks to Christina's youth and her present day experiences—the prose is stirring and evocative.

Originality: While the search for love and affirmation following traumatic circumstances is familiar territory, Tollyfield offers Christina a unique narrative arc, while bringing striking atmosphere and brutal realism to the pages.

Character/Execution: Christina is a well-developed character, pulsing with sadness and plagued by regret.  Supporting characters, with the exception of Simone and some of Christina's short-term girlfriends, are similarly disenchanted. Regardless, Tollyfield's lyricism elevates the storytelling, never allowing the characters or circumstances to surrender to gloom. 

Date Submitted: April 12, 2023

Tollyfield writes this elegant novella with intricate detail and grace about the rough childhood of a lesbian who struggles with acceptance and forming relationships. Still distraught over the break-up with her girlfriend Steph many years ago in Brixton, thirty-something Christina moves to Hull, England, for its thriving gay scene. She is confident about her trajectory in life, moving out of her adoptive mother’s house and working in a factory because it keeps her active. Chris’s co-worker, an Irish bisexual woman named Siobhan, is a promising love interest, an “electric character” with a “laugh that swept through the warehouse floor,” but since Steph left Chris for a man, Chris is touchingly wary of being betrayed again.

Tollyfield confronts the trauma of abandonment, betrayal, familial loyalty, and the struggle to be ready to give love and be worthy of accepting love. Throughout the book, Chris flashes back to her troubled childhood when her prostituting and alcoholic mother abandoned Chris and her younger brother Kyle to a friend. They were soon adopted by Simone, a devout Christian who was more interested in the act of caring for the children than in their actual lives.

Long narrative sections with minimal dialogue are alive with striking details of cluttered, working-class neighborhoods, wayward citizens, and the drift of life. Tollyfield, a poet, keeps the language lively and weighted with feeling. Emotions heat up when Kyle acts out, develops an addiction, and clashes with Simone’s boyfriend Greg, which hinders Chris and Kyle’s search for their missing mother. Chris admits to her therapist that she yearns for a life partner, describing her perfect woman: “Her laugh will fill the street. Her laugh will fill the city. She’ll open my world, open my mind.” But when Siobhan is ready for intimacy, Chris holds back, convincingly, her reluctance feeling true, relatable, and moving. This perceptive and deeply human account of Chris’s emotional journey will keep readers engrossed.

Takeaway: A resonant chronicle of a woman sorting out her baggage so she can be ready for love again.

Great for fans of: Gabriela Cabezón Cámara’s The Adventures of China Iron, Ali Smith.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Kirkus Reviews



A meandering but often affecting tale of ties that bind—and leave deep marks.

An English lesbian struggles with her conflicted love life and fractured family in this coming-of-age novella.

Christina is a 35-year-old soft-drink factory worker living in the English town of Hull, where she trolls lesbian bars for short-term hookups and pines for her ex-girlfriend Steph, who left her for a man. Christina’s psychologist encourages her to ask out her fetching, bisexual co-worker Siobhan, who proves ready and willing. But Christina repeatedly pulls back from their make-out sessions because of a mountain of emotional baggage. She unpacks this baggage in alternate chapters looking back on her fraught past, starting as a child living in London’s Brixton slum in the 1990s with her younger brother, Kyle, and her Mum, a charismatic but unstable single woman given to unsavory men, booze, and cocaine binges. Social workers intervene, and Christina and Kyle end up adopted—along with two Black siblings—by Simone, a woman living on her own but supported by her estranged husband, who lives in Norway. Simone is a bundle of contradictions, a compulsively giving woman and a Christian church member who frowns on nonstandard sex lives but gets involved in an extramarital affair. Friction ensues over Simone’s attempts to make over the tomboyish Christina in girly clothes and, later, to derail her budding teenage lesbianism—along with smoking, drinking, and minor delinquency—by way of a Christian therapist. Kyle embarks on major hooliganism, including fire-starting, progressing to serious drug addiction in adolescence. As the present and past storylines head toward a convergence, Christina, now under Covid-19 lockdown, tries to bond with Siobhan and reconnect with Simone while ruminating on Steph, Mum, and other lost relationships.

Tollyfield’s melancholy novella delves into families that don’t fit well together—flesh-and-blood ones full of florid problems and, even more, put-together clans whose members chafe but strive to get along as the best option among bad ones. Christina finds herself caught between that yearning for connection and the wariness at the hurt that can flow from it. There’s a kitchen-sink drama vibe to the somewhat shapeless narrative, with characters muddling through as dysfunctions and emotional funks wax and wane amid much therapeutic dialogue. At one point, a therapist advises Christina: “ ‘Family events and the sort of trauma you have been through may never fully heal,’ she counselled…‘learn to channel it appropriately and in the least painful way possible, rather than having the pain channel you.’ ” Fortunately, the author’s prose is evocative and atmospheric in conveying Christina’s life, split between half-desperate pleasures—“Most Saturdays I’d be back in the toilet cubicle of some dirty nightclub, pleasuring a girl against the cubicle door”—and tense alienation. (“He would watch me sometimes, let his eyes bore into me, made sure I registered his disgust. Men would do this often in my life, or else impose themselves in my space so easily and so dominantly that I was forced to acknowledge their presence, forced to accept their physical superiority. It was hard to stomach—men behaving like that around me—but harder still to try to change.”) Christina’s prickly uneasiness in her own skin—and sadness at the gulf that opens between her and others—gives her travails an authenticity and pathos that resonate.

A meandering but often affecting tale of ties that bind—and leave deep marks.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-80074-514-8

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Olympia Publishers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

Review Program: KIRKUS INDIE



LoveReading UK

"A coming of age novella charting a young woman’s journey to adulthood, navigating a challenging upbringing, loss and heartbreak."

A 148-page coming of age novella charting a young woman’s journey to adulthood, navigating a challenging upbringing, loss and heartbreak. ‘Brixton Nights’ by Amy Tollyfield is an honest and heartfelt story of Christina and her rebellious brother Kyle, their upbringing, adoption and the challenges they face into adulthood. Christina has a lot of loss and trauma to deal with in this story, and the plotline jumps between childhood and adulthood, taking us through the challenges of her past alongside her dealing with the heartbreak of a breakup with her girlfriend. I liked the structure of the plot and how it switched from past to present, it provided both context and plot simultaneously. I also enjoyed the original poems and the start and end of the book. There’s an openness to Christina’s character that I found interesting throughout the story. Even when she’s having trouble sharing her thoughts and feelings with the people she cares for, the reader is always fully aware of her struggles. I found I was able to sympathise with Christina throughout and was urging her to take the advice of her therapist and be open with Siobhan about her past. Although Christina doesn’t always do what’s needed to move forward, the awareness she has of her past and it’s impact leaves the reader with some hope that she will find happiness eventually. ‘Brixton Nights’ is a powerful and enticing realist novella about one woman's struggles to come to terms with her past and her losses in order to find a happier ending. A great book that can be read in a single sitting for those who are looking to read a coming of age story filled with vulnerability.

Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

LoveReading Ambassador

Find This Book In

Primary Genre: Literary Fiction


  • Indie Author Books
  • Indie Books We Love