Into Dusk is the powerful story of long-lost siblings Jean, Barry and Audrey. The main character, Jean, is a middle-aged woman who takes on a dramatic life of role play by assuming multiple identities. She envisages the kind of person she once hoped to be and acts this out through her fantasy world of ideal characters. Always immaculate in appearance, she is highly critical of the apparent lack of care and moral shortcomings of others - and yet fails to see the irony in her own questionable behaviour...
In an attempt to drive away her shame at not having fulfilled, as she sees it, her reproductive purpose in life, Jean becomes despondent. Since the death of her rational and kind husband, Tom, and her unrelenting anger at not having had children, Jean aches with loneliness. She spends her days occupied by menial tasks to keep her from thinking about her distant younger brother, Barry. Jean's life had changed when she regretfully became estranged from him, despite them being inseparable during their childhood. Barry lives in a halfway house as a chef but when he goes to the hospital to work, he is challenged by the tempting opportunity to revert back to a life of criminality, drugs and alcoholism. Their mutual friend, Brenda, is keen to reunite Jean and Barry, but has lost touch with them both. Will she be able to find them and reunite them - or will time run out before they are reconciled?
Shame, failure and disappointment are prominent motifs that are used throughout the text to engage with the reader whilst taking them on an emotional journey. As the characters' flaws are slowly revealed, the reader is challenged to decide who to support in this moral predicament.
Ruth Owen is a freelance writer and lecturer in English. She has been published in The Guardian and in The Times Educational Supplement. She has also written for The Times Educational Supplement blog and is a member of The Times English Advisory Panel. Pandril Press published her short story `Sharing the Cost' in an anthology in 2013. She lives in Sheffield with her husband and has three children.