The saucy book that's caused a rotten row between neighbours: Writer causes outrage after locals say she based erotic novel on them
Angela Hargreaves' novel Rotten Row is described as a tale of 'sexual encounters' and the 'complexity of living in close proximity to some neighbours'The writer's own neighbours in Eccleshall, Staffordshire, are now refusing to speak to her after accusing her of basing the story on their lives
Hargreaves insists the book is fictional
12:52 GMT, 10 December 2012
Authors often base their novels on their own experiences, over-heard conversations or eccentric characters they may have met throughout their lives.
But one writer has caused offense by keeping her characters too close to home – as she's been accused of basing them on her own neighbours.
Friends of novelist Angela Hargreaves, who lives in Eccleshall, Staffordshire, are now refusing to speak to her after private conversations they've had with her and secrets they've confided have allegedly ended up in her book.
Art imitating life Angela Hargreaves has been accused of basing her racy characters on her neighbours
Hargreaves' novel Rotten Row was published earlier this year and its steamy scenes and saucy characters have appealed to readers whose interest in erotic fiction has been piqued by Fifty Shades of Grey.
On Amazon, the book is described as containing 'tales of love, death, nostalgic regret, sexual encounters,
romance, marriage, divorce and desperate times but ultimately how
quickly our fortunes can and do change.
'Rotten Row is about the petty spitefulness and complexity of living in close proximity to some neighbours,' it adds.
Hargreaves, 57, is now experiencing such complexities with her own neighbours who are outraged that some of her characters appear to be based on them.
Emma Williams, 46, a civil servant who has known Hargreaves for ten years, said she believes the character Lucy – described as 'boring' with a 'mundane job' – is inspired by her.
She was shocked to find similar conversations to those she'd had in confidence with Hargreaves in the novel.
Controversial: But Hargreaves says it's all fictional
'It’s so upsetting, because it’s my
next-door neighbour. The things I’ve been involved in have now come out in a book. I haven’t
spoken to her since the novel came out and she is no longer a friend,' she told the Daily Telegraph.
Another neighbour, who did not want to be
named, said the book had caused 'major problems' and that there have been 'a lot of tears shed'.
'How would you like to
live next to somebody who was writing things that were talked about in
private into black and white It is unreal,' they told the newspaper.
Characters in the novel include a sex-mad florist, a cheating boyfriend and a buxom caterer. There's also a male character described as a 'decrepit old wreck' who chases women and a sex-obsessed widow described as a 'termagant little hag of a woman'.
Hargreaves, who lives with her husband and their dogs, has denied that any of the characters are based on her neighbours and said she has been 'quite upset' by the fall out.
'We’ve been crossed off the invitation list for Christmas parties and cards,' she said.
She has also taken to Amazon, where her novel has received mixed reviews, to defend her work.
She writes in the product description: 'The characters in Rotten Row are fictional and many of the things that happen in the book didn't happen at all.
'I made them up or stole them from the lives of other people that I've met over the years. All have been hugely exaggerated for comic or tragic effect.
'I had a “I'll use this someday file” and hoped to one day take advantage of what seemed to me to be a collection of just the sort of comic slightly public episodes that was destined to be used by someone sooner rather than later.
'My fictitious characters live in the fictional village of Upton Green.'