Having released her debut novel at the age of 88, Kensington author Tessa Levy hopes her late-blooming career can inspire other women to pursue their dreams.
The launch for ‘No One But You’ will take place at The Arch London Hotel in Hyde Park on May 24, located moments away from the author’s apartment, where she has lived most of her life.
While it is extraordinary to publish your first book in your late 80s, Mrs Levy hopes that whoever buys her book enjoys it as much as she did writing it.
Mrs Levy said: “I always tried, I always attempted to try to start to write a book and certain things happen in one’s life when you unfortunately don’t do the things you intended to do.
“I’ve always believed I had quite a story to tell,” she added.
The book was co-written by Mrs Levy’s youngest daughter Shelley Cassidy, who arrived to the London book launch from Los Angeles.
Despite being officially described as ‘a fictional account of a young girl’s extraordinary life’, Mrs Levy has revealed that the novel was inspired in part by her own story and includes a number of autobiographical motives.
When asked if she worries about how some of the events described in the book might be received by her closest family, Mrs Levy shakes her head and says that blurring the line between what happened for real and what did not was one of the most exciting elements of the writing process.
“It is a novel, so a lot of things are fiction and a lot non-fiction.
“The people that know me intimately may think – did this happen to Tessa?
“But the people who do not know me and buy my book, they will read this book and think about how amazing it is I got through” she said.
‘No One But You’ tells a story of a young woman called Tessa who leaves the war-torn east end of London to the high life of America to live with her distant cousin.
After a year and a half, Tessa comes back home as a transformed, chic young woman madly in love with the handsome and poetic Gus who stayed on the other side of the Atlantic.
As she struggles to resettle in London and forget about her love to Gus and her American adventure, Tessa meets the successful and charming Michael who eventually becomes her husband.
In her book, the author tries to find an answer to the underlying theme of the story — is it possible to love two men in one lifetime?
The author herself left for America on MS Queen Elizabeth age 17 and the two years that followed shaped her as a person and influenced the course of her whole life.
Mrs Levy said: “At the time I left London everything was terribly, terribly sad.
“As much as I missed my family, I saw a way of life that was completely different.”
The book wouldn’t have been completed without the encouragement and support of Mrs Levy’s daughters, Karen and Shelley.
“Isn’t it amazing, having gone through the war and being able to live the life that she lived, and travel, her parents being refugees, and seeing the transformation of the world and still standing with all the loss and grief,” said Karen.
Mrs Levy has a contagious energy and that warm, positive presence, often found in strong women who have led fulfilling lives.
When asked how she manages to stay so enthusiastic and passionate about life, Mrs Levy pauses for a moment to look for the right words and then says how despite all the difficulties and illnesses she experienced in her life, she has always tried to stay courageous.
“Always try not to give in because if you give in, you’re lost,”she added.