Is Legacy the new Girl on the Train? Retired actress’ racy novel about ex-wife of a rockstar accused of rape is hailed as THE audiobook of 2021

  • Carole Hayman’s racy new novel Legacy is set to be hit thriller of the year 
  • Plot sees main character Celia receive an email accusing her ex-husband of rape
  • Thriller is told through a series of flashbacks and examines the idea of memory
  • Author Carole told FEMAIL she wanted to ‘unearth buried stories’ after #MeToo
  • Legacy is available exclusively on Audible 

A racy thriller about the ex-wife of a rockstar accused of committing a rape is set to be the audiobook of the year as it tackles questions surrounding #MeToo. 

Legacy, by writer, producer and presenter Carole Hayman, from Kent, echoes hit drama Girl on the Train in its mysterious plot centred around an unreliable narrator who struggles to determine the truth about events in the past.

When Celia, the protagonist, receives an email out of the blue accusing her ex-husband Davie of sexual assault, she embarks on a journey to uncover the truth, as well as being forced to confront and question her own experiences with men in the swinging sixties.

Author Carole told FEMAIL she was inspired by the #MeToo movement to ‘unearth buried stories from a time when women had no say’, explaining: ‘It wasn’t very hard to make sure the story stayed believable – I only had to draw on my own experience.’ 

Legacy, by writer, producer and presenter Carole Hayman, from Kent, has drawn comparisons to Girl on the Train due to its thriller plot clouded in mystery with an unreliable narrator who struggles to determine the truth about events in the past

Carole was an actress and associate director at the Royal Court Theatre in the late eighties and has also written radio and TV series for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. 

The author, who previously penned The Warfleet Chronicles and Hard Choices, said she had reflected on her own experiences of the entertainment industry while writing the audiobook.

She said she had ‘always written about women in extreme situations’, explaining: ‘I thought it was time to take on some of the issues from my own past life. 

‘The blind eye for example, I had frequently turned to exploitation going on around me, including my own.’ 

Carole continued: ‘I’d always felt I was more like a man – I could look after myself. It took me years to acknowledge the damage I’d sustained while embracing the ‘normal’ boundaries of the time. 

‘I was a hippy – I could get away with a certain amount of extravagant behaviour; I believed in free love – free everything – and I won’t lie, it was a lot of fun. But eventually, I paid the price.’  

The author said she drew on her own experience and the ‘exploitation’ she suffered within the entertainment industry to pen the novel 

While she said the audiobook is ‘not auto-biographical’, she explained: ‘I entered the entertainment business as an eager and ambitious young actress and I was very quickly aware that talent was secondary to desirability. You had to be willing to exploit that.

The career of Carole Hayman 

Carole Hayman is an English writer, broadcaster, actor and director. 

She was born in Kent, and attended Leeds University and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

She has been an actress and theatre director and was an associate director at the Royal Court Theatre in the late eighties. 

She was married to Max Stafford-Clark, the director of the theatre during some of that period. 

During that time she appeared in many of Caryl Churchill’s plays including, Cloud Nine and Top Girls. 

As Associate Director, she directed plays by Sarah Daniels, Andrea Dunbar, GE Newman, Fay Weldon and Sue Townsend, including Ripen our Darkness and Byrthrite by Sarah Daniels and Bazaar and Rummage and The Great Celestial Cow by Sue Townsend. 

She has published many comic and satirical novels and written radio and TV series for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. 

These include Ladies of Letters (co-written with Lou Wakefield) and the Refuge and the Spinney (co-written with Sue Townsend). 

‘In those days there were no intimacy co-ordinators, no one to complain to that your boundaries were being crossed, in fact, no boundaries.’ 

Carole recalled: ‘Almost all directors and producers were male and it was not a secret that many of them had, at the very least, “wandering hands”.

‘It went with the territory, as I say in the novel, there was an unspoken, “droit de Seigneur”. 

‘One Seigneur told me he’d only become a director so he could have sex with actresses. On that occasion I declined.’

‘But, you spoke up at your peril. You’d be on a black list tout suite and after that would struggle to work at ITV, BBC, RSC…’ 

Meanwhile Carole added that the way women are depicted in ‘stories, films and plays’ is ‘almost always by men’, explaining: ‘I wanted to compare the situation of women then and now – using the generation gaps between Celia and Carly to examine how much things have really changed.’ 

But despite her own experiences of within the industry, Carole confessed she feels ‘very uneasy’ about cancel culture and deplatforming.  

She explained: ‘What I perceive as a denial of history and a discarding of crucial information, really worries me – particularly where women are concerned.

‘A lot of things my generation of women fought for and prized, are often deemed obsolete and worthless now….

‘There’s a lot of hiding behind Wokery and punishing people for their perceived transgressions of it. 

‘For centuries women have been punished for their transgressions…I hate the idea of that continuing – just under another name. 

‘There’s plenty right with being awake to sensitive social issues, but plenty wrong with being wilfully ignorant and scared of stepping beyond what’s perceived as, ‘safe space’.’ 

In Carole’s audiobook, the protagonist Celia enlists the help of Carly,  her millennial colleague at the Harland Herald, to revisit a past she thought she’d left behind, full of partying, drugs and free love. 

Celia, the protagonist, is forced to question her own experiences with men in life and compelled to uncover the truth about her ex-husband and former rockstar Davie, after she receives an email out of the blue accusing him of committing sexual assault

At the time, she’d thought she was at the centre of something – she’d been swept up in the maelstrom of the summer of love – but upon revisiting the memories, she discovers something rotten at the core.  

Celia is forced to question how much ‘passed her by’ and confront her own sexual experiences with men throughout her life. 

During one shocking scene, she recalls being a schoolgirl and going to parties where she ended up ‘fooling around’ with much older men.

As their investigation progresses, it threatens to expose the secrets of more than one person, in a journey that takes Celia and Carly from their sleepy, rural town into the dark heart of the swinging sixties. 

The pair go on to uncover a group of men who were part of sex ring for young trafficked women, before learning one was involved in a murder of one of the girls, which was then covered up. 

After the case is brought to court, Celia confesses she is struggling with the ‘realisation that they had each in a way colluded with the crime’ and calls it ‘devastating.’ 

Legacy is available exclusively on Audible  

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