Amanda Nicol Different Stories


Dead Pets Society

Book cover image Dead Pets Society by Amanda Nicol - dog on beach

Mike’s writing Offsetters, her eco-thriller, but when her dog dies, she loses the plot. Her special piece of the natural world has gone forever. Is it too late to save the rest of it or are we all going down with our masters?

Eco-anxiety, climate change, how to be green, the sea, walking, seagulls, the internet, conspiracy theories, oil, writing books, a stupid love affair, grief, hope, allotments, real live people, their dead pets and the social imperative to reconnect with the laws of nature before it’s too late – Dead Pets Society is a call to conscious evolution! And it’s funny.





‘Essential reading. A heartfelt and heartrending novel that simultaneously illuminates our unique relationships with animals and exposes the apocalyptic mess we make of the planet.’

‘A fascinating combination of a book within a book; it contains all the emotions; the ecological research is impressive, and it’s about real life. Everyone should read it.’

This ‘book within a book’ is fascinatingly full of facts, emotions and just about everything else. Its message is clear: we need to care about our planet as much and as dearly as we love our pets. There is truth here, as well as poignancy and humour …  Recommended – particularly if you like a book that has a deeper meaning behind a heartwarming message of hope.’

‘A wonderfully fast-paced story full of page-turning wit and ironic good humour. Some laugh out loud moments sprinkled with a deadly serious message. A call to eco-action and global awareness.’

‘Intelligent, sharp, ironic, with pathos, bathos and everything that life can throw at you. The author brings a very real world into focus. Having read two other novels by Amanda Nicol ‘House of Bread’ and ‘Badric’s Island’ I knew I was in for humour, debate and well-informed writing … I urge other readers to invest in this fresh and stimulating novel.’

‘A book full of warmth and love. This is the third book of Amanda Nicol’s that I’ve read, following on from House of Bread and Badric’s Island, and I’ve loved each one. The story concerns Mike (Michelle) and is told in the first person. She is writing a book in which the central character is Claire who also relates her story in the first person. So, we have the I of Mike and the I of Claire, and behind them both the I of the unseen puppet mistress, Amanda Nicol, the creator of them both. The story is set in a seaside town, which, as far as I remember is never named, but which has a close resemblance to Hastings in East Sussex, and is where the author lives. The stories of Mike and Claire weave in and out of each other giving a rich texture to the book. Mike’s dog has recently died and she is lost without him, and it is that which leads her to the idea of founding the Dead Pets Society, and from that that she meets other people whose pets have died. Claire’s story opens with some mystery about where her son has got to. Both stories play out against a background of concerns about the environment and the apparent destruction of the planet, of trying to understand relationships and their love lives, sex lives. I suppose one might say, trying to find the meaning of life. Amanda Nicol’s writing reminds me, in some ways, of the work of Virginia Woolf, one of my favourite authors. She has something of the same intermingling of voices and the same talent for description.’

Read Sample



Badric’s Island

Image of the front cover of the novel 'Badric's Island' by Amanda NicolOnetime soap star, Rachel lives in hope of decent work instead of being cast in TV ads. As she dreams of escape and a less complicated love life, other people’s dramas play out in her front room. A bit of Direct Action eases her conscience until things go horribly wrong. But then there’s no such thing as bad publicity.







‘It reads like a British ‘Sex and the City’; it’s a satire on modern London life and contains moments of pure comedy.’  

‘Where’s the film, where’s the TV series? The dialogue sparkles, Rachel says things that we all think but are too timid to express and the description is wonderful. It’s like one big long glorious rant with a few in-breaths!’

‘Amanda Nicol writes with love… A love of life, a love of people, a gentle regard for the oddities of living. The story is based around Rachel, an actress who is currently not working, but who has been a star in a soap, and it is narrated by Rachel in the first person and in the present tense, which gives it a great feeling of immediacy. One feels that one is living alongside her, that one knows her intimately and knows her every thought. There is an intricate web of plot and subplots involving her friends and neighbours, the people she works with or has worked with, the people she goes to bed with, and the whole thing rushes along in a chatty, gently humorous and engaging way. It is also a commentary on modern day living in a big city, on the pressures put on women by advertising, on the pressure of finding work in a crowded field, and on the sheer ridiculousness of advertising itself. I recommend this book to people of any age and either sex.’

‘The book is extremely well written, in the first person, and the swirling plot allows for numerous diversions into musing on modern life that add bite and contemporary relevance to the narrative.’

‘Bridget with brains.’

‘Funny, feisty, feminist fiction.’

‘I read this book in two sittings…overnight and sleep got in the way. I fell into it at once and was carried along by the intelligent writing, the humour, satire and human frailty. I felt a relationship with the totally believable people inhabiting the thoroughly enjoyable 275 pages. I like a book you can see in your head like a film, and hear the voices of the people in it, something that makes you unexpectedly burst into laughter like a when witty friend’s observation will catch you unawares. I recommend it to anyone who has made some suspect choices in their life, not always got it right and maybe has some conflicting morals…You will enjoy finding an ally in Rachel and her friends and neighbours.’

‘The author is right in that yes, the battle these days that most women face is dealing with the contradictions their lives present i.e. we want to be considered attractive, without feeling like we are betraying ourselves or giving in to media pressure. When you have a home and a job it is hard to complain yet, we are still unsatisfied!’

‘This book is likely to be read by women since it has a female protagonist – sad but true! It should appeal to a metropolitan audience given its accurate depiction of London, and its sophisticated depiction of the media may attract readers who would be unlikely to read literary fiction otherwise.’

‘It is difficult to think of exact literary fellows for a novel of this kind that crosses literary boundaries with impunity, but the strong first-person narrative calls to mind books such as ‘White Oleander’ by Janet Fitch.’ 

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House of Bread

Book cover image - detail of Bedlam Square by Roland JarvisSouth London, the summer of ’89. Dan Blake’s world has been turned upside down by mental illness – inexplicable, invisible and certainly not cool. He’s been sectioned – life in Woodland Park Hospital is no picnic, but it does have its moments.

…He was plugged into the main source, lit up. He could live on light. He could feel it, taste its liquid gold running through his veins. It was love, love… Love that he couldn’t see. Or touch. That could never be taken away… What was going on?




‘I read it practically at one sitting … House of Bread is very impressive. Vivid, painful and completely engrossing.’ Howard Schumann

‘This is a brilliant book in all respects. His incomprehension at his predicament, being detained under the mental health act, forms the initial part of the narrative.  Gradually we learn the events that lead to Dan’s incarceration, on the way discovering how quickly one becomes a non-person when caught up in the mental health system.  Friends one has had all one’s life find nothing to say when faced with observing discomfort. Fellow patients become closer than family.  The advantages of psychiatric medication are quickly shown to be far outweighed by the appalling side effects – the ‘Largactil shuffle’ and the drooling rigidity that accompanies it.  Dan eventually learns almost by accident that he is a manic-depressive and that his colour and number (7) filled world of complete invulnerability is paralleled by the depths of despair and utter hopelessness of suicidal depression. That he survives his stay and finds genuineness and indeed love in the process must fill the reader with hope. This book is a must for anyone with either a passion for a good read or an interest in mental health.  The description of the roller coaster highs and lows of manic depression is perfect in every detail and challenges us on every page.  A must for professionals and those it affects personally.’ Hannah Walker (Service User)

‘I have just finished reading House of Bread and found it to be an entertaining and moving insight not only into mental illness but also into the service user experience. I considered myself to be an enlightened and empowering nurse, but this book has shown me that, at times, I have been far from that. I believe that everybody working in the mental health field should read this, and I will be recommending it to many colleagues.’ Kate (Registered Mental Nurse)

‘I found the book both passionate and poignant; I thought the description of mania and slow realisation/sense of alienation from the outside world was brilliantly portrayed and one of the bits that really moved me was his phone calls when the truth of his abandoned and isolated status from previous friends and associates came to life.’ Hilary (Occupational Therapist – Mental Health)

‘This is an extremely well written, intelligent, sharp, funny, sad and philosophical novel. The setting is extremely well handled. Dan is sectioned and the plot cleverly builds around what took place before he was sectioned and how this is affecting his life and the life of his friends and family. He’s got ‘clinical happiness’ and I’ve not seen a better descriptive fictional account of this disorder. Contemporary fiction tends to be aimed at the twenty/thirty-something market, but this novel would be bought by readers of all ages. The book is both challenging and readable – a skill which not all writers possess.’ Publisher’s Reader review

‘I think this book will appeal to many, as there are many who have been there and are there and will be there in the future.  Often those on the outside who have never suffered from a mental illness cannot understand that you can’t take a few pills and then get better in a week.’ 

‘I very much enjoyed House of Bread. It is a fascinating account of what goes on in such a hospital. I found it hard to put the book down.’ 

‘I enjoyed Amanda Nicol’s book enormously. I was intrigued by the plot, which reveals itself slowly and I was invigorated by the pace. I think more people would enjoy this story if they could see how sensibly and humorously she has treated the subject. Speech is beautifully recorded. I found the book hard to put down.’ 

‘I loved this book. It tells us about the many who are having a very difficult time in their lives and brings ‘mental illness’ into a humane context so that we can identify with the characters and feel love and sympathy.  To make it seem not the secret terrible shame is a great achievement.  I was brought up with mental illness, my aunt didn’t speak after a breakdown when she was about 18 and she spent the rest of her life as a sort of shell of a person, it was heartbreaking for my family especially my grandmother.  We never knew when she would have a turn. Thank you, Amanda, for describing the experience so well, I feel it will have helped many.’

‘I was moved to e-mail you since recently reading ‘House of Bread’ by Amanda Nicol. I am a very selective reader and it has joined the ranks of ‘unputdownable’, I read the book in one sitting and am recommending it to friends. I found it be both humane and human, well written, accessible, darkly and appropriately humorous and definitely required reading. Anyone who has been on a ‘wobble’ (just about everyone I imagine) can identify with the experience of Dan to a greater or lesser degree. It is not in the least a depressing account of subject matter that can and has been stigmatised. I feel that this book would be a fantastic addition to recommended reading for young teenagers at school, normalising that which can seem both isolating and terrifying.’ 

‘Amanda has crafted a very well-written novel, and fully deserves the praise that has been heaped upon her in other reviews of the work. It is, in turns, funny, touching and thought-provoking. Her portrayal of the vulnerable Dan is very effective and I was immensely satisfied that the ending showed hope for his future. Her obvious knowledge of the mental health care system and the treatments used enriched the story, which was strong enough to stand on its own. The characters were sympathetic, the dialogue wonderful and I found it an excellent, life-affirming read.’

‘I expected this to be a difficult book, but no – straight in, easy to read, I laughed, I cried and I found, unexpectedly, bits that hit a personal note.’ 

‘…there’s a wealth of detail in here (the author writes very, very well by the way) so that you know the author has been there, done that. It’s not a novel which requires a plot; it’s just about a stay in a mental hospital. It’s completely undramatised and all the more effective for it. The problem is that I don’t suppose the author will produce anything else – what would you expect to follow on from this anyway? You know better than I do. And you also know whether or not you can sell such a novel. If you tell the sales department you want to consider a novel about a sectioned manic-depressive, they’ll groan. But given that’s what it is, it’s very, very well done. It’s hard to work out quite what sets it apart from the usual slush-pile loonie-bin saga, but something definitely does.’ Publisher’s Reader review

Read sample



In Jerusalem by  William Blake Plate 31. Los, travelling thro’ darkness and horrid solitude crosses London: Thence to Bethlehem, where was builded Dens of despair in the house of bread; enquiring in vain of stones and rocks he took his way, for human form was none… Bethlehem translates as House of Bread, and St Mary of Bethlehem was the priory founded in 1247 in Bishopsgate which became a mental hospital by the 14th century and known as Bedlam.

Amanda Nicol Different Stories


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