The author has said elsewhere that this book was a kind of reverse 'what if?' Usually 'what ifs' (a very common starting point for writers from Dumas to Dickens and onwards) are 'What if it all went right instead of wrong?'. A Rival Creation is, 'What if it all went wrong, and I couldn't make it as a writer after all in spite of desperately wanting to be one?' It was published after Cobbold had had a massive success with the divine Guppies for Tea, so is extremely interesting from that point of view. It turns out she wrote it when Guppies for Tea had not yet found a publisher and it is filled with longings that will be familiar to any unpublished writer. Liberty Turner lives in a village troubled by strange undercurrents, and at the mercy of her awful (but beautifully drawn) narcissist of a father. She seems to be at the beck and call of the various other somewhat deluded local eccentrics as well. The question posed is, how can Liberty reconstruct herself after serial abandonments and the disappointment of rejection by the publishing world she so desperately wants to re-enter? She does, with considerable bravery, and you should read it to find out how.