Descent: An Irresistible Tragicomedy of Everyday Life

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Descent: An Irresistible Tragicomedy of Everyday Life
Author Sabrina Broadbent
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject Marriage
Genre Autobiographical novel
Roman à clef
Published 2004
Media type Print
ISBN 0099464527

Descent: An Irresistible Tragicomedy of Everyday Life is a 2004 roman à clef by Sabrina Broadbent about a troubled marriage.[1] The protagonist, Genevieve, is a psychiatric nurse whose husband, a filmmaker, leaves her at home while he travels the world having sexual intercourse with well-known actresses.[2] Descent was Broadbent's debut novel and is based on her own marriage.[3] After Descent, her next novel was You Don't Have to be Good, which also takes romantic problems as its subject.[4] Descent was the inaugural winner of the W H Smith Raw Talent Award.[5] Stephen Rodrick of The New York Times called Descent "a touching, smart novel."[6]


The novel is based on Broadbent's previous marriage. Broadbent had been married to Michael Winterbottom and had had two daughters with him, but the couple divorced; Andrew Eaton suggested that Winterbottom went on to reflect the family's life in fiction as well, in the film Genova, although Winterbottom denied this claim.[7] As an autobiographical novel, Descent specifically documents the deterioration of Broadbent's marriage to Winterbottom as a result of his long work-related absences.[8] Broadbent began writing the novel at age 49, after taking a Jacksons Lane course in creative writing.[9] In relation to Descent, Broadbent said, "I didn't really set out to write a novel... I was writing about a woman who gets to that point in her life that everything seems to be collapsing."[10]


  1. ^ Damon Smith (2010). Michael Winterbottom: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi. p. xxiii. ISBN 1604738413. 
  2. ^ Alfred Hickling (April 23, 2005). "Descent, by Sabrina Broadbent". The Guardian. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  3. ^ Emma Hagestadt (June 4, 2010). "You Don't Have to be Good, By Sabrina Broadbent". The Independent. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ Emma Hagestadt (July 22, 2009). "Life after the Bea runs out". The Independent. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  5. ^ "The Raw Talent competition has now closed!". W H Smith. Archived from the original on June 5, 2002. 
  6. ^ Stephen Rodrick (July 3, 2005). "Michael Winterbottom Gets Naked". The New York Times. p. 4. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  7. ^ Sheila Johnston (March 31, 2009). "Michael Winterbottom interview: on his film 'Genova'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ Steve Kilgallon (November 27, 2011). "Sex, drugs and self-control". Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  9. ^ "You don't have to be good to write a trilogy, but it helps". Haringey Independent. August 17, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  10. ^ Rachel Cooke (May 23, 2010). "Michael Winterbottom on The Killer Inside Me". The Observer. Retrieved August 29, 2013.