A SECONDARY school teacher has published a lockdown novel which looks at the funny side of living in a South Oxfordshire village.

‘A Dead Polar Bear on a Sledge’ – a humorous take on Oxfordshire village life by East Hagbourne resident Alison Lane, follows the life of a woman called Jen who is ‘living in a village by mistake’ as she goes through heartbreak and longs for her old London life.

The novel leads on from Ms Lane’s blog of observations on modern life and living in a South Oxfordshire village, which has provided her with plenty of humourous material.

Ms Lane said: “Like many people I had some time on my hands during lockdown and needed a project to keep me going.

"I have lived in South Oxfordshire for over 20 years now and it is an inspiring place to live and to write.

“I joined the Didcot Writers’ Group during lockdown and that was a real motivation, too.”

She added: “I have been writing about my experiences of living here for years in my blog ‘In a Village by Mistake’ and this book was a natural extension of that. There is so much to write about – in fact, there is too much material.”

The novel is about Jennifer Grey who is a 40-year-old 'urban refugee', ‘living in a village by mistake’.

The story follows her trying to cope with infidelity, loneliness and finding love in all the wrong places.

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When her husband Chris leaves her, Jen drags her broken heart around ‘like a dead polar bear on a sledge’, while still somehow remembering to make nutritious packed lunches, sign the reading diary and wash her hair occasionally.

At first Ms Lane’s novel was turned away by an agent but the author did not lose hope, and decided to publish the work herself.

She said: “I had some interest from an agent who really liked my writing but said that the plot and particularly the ending ‘wasn’t commercial enough’ – but I think readers want something a bit different and not the usual boring romantic cliches.

“So, I decided to take the plunge and design and publish the book myself. I had to learn a lot of new skills.

“The cover is by a talented young artist Sam Jarman, and she’s captured something really special about village life in her illustrations.”

Alison has also completed a second novel, ‘Cover Version’, which will be published in the spring.

She said: “I am also working on an audio version with my friend Angela Spence, also from South Oxfordshire.

"She has a real vocal talent and we have had a lot of fun learning how to use the recording equipment and software. It’s a real cottage industry.”

She added: “I hope that other people will be inspired to give it a go – if we can do it then anyone can, and now is the perfect time.”