The Penny Dropping offers an account of a cherished relationship from first meeting to eventual break-up. Distance gives the writer a retrospective clarity from which she doesn’t not flinch despite its challenges (‘Look at me,’ laments the speaker in ‘Pretty Woman’, ‘stepping back into the dress, / pulling up the side zip, smoothing it down, / as though that’s all it took.’)

But ultimately, poems such as ‘No Point Now’ undo their own argument that the penny has dropped years too late, for in the process of re-evaluating the past a new and altered value is bestowed on it. In ‘Films We Saw at The Phoenix’, the speaker recalls the lovers in one film whose relationship is also at an end, but who look back and ‘spread it out tenderly, the tapestry / of their love which they alone could see.’ The immediate power of these poems is such that much is at stake on every page.

Praise for The Penny Dropping

The Penny Dropping, Helen Farish’s verse-sequence about a love relationship, could be called a page-turner if it weren’t for the fact that every page is a lyric poem of such compulsion that it unfailingly and hauntingly detains the reader’s attention. As a whole, it has all the coherence of a novel, but there is no much more to this beautifully realised lyric collection of the kind that she is a recognised msater of. It is a masterpiece in both forms to a very unusual degree.Bernard O’Donoghue