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The Layers

by Stephen Reynolds

Debut novel about the disparate versions of ourselves – and what happens when we lose them.

The Layers is the debut novel from Stephen Reynolds, exploring how our identity is shaped by our relationships. The anonymous protagonist recounts his life story, showing us how the people he has loved – his parents, sister, grandfather, best friend, and partner – have all helped to form who he is. He is a different version of himself with each loved one, versions which combine to make up a whole person. However, as the book goes on and the protagonist starts to lose grip of people around him, he begins to wonder who he really is without them. Are the various versions of himself lost with those who knew them, or can he remain whole in spite of their loss? Struggling with overwhelming grief and its consequential identity crisis, he teeters on the edge of fading away completely. Can he find a way to pull those lost pieces of himself back together, or is he forever lost to the void?

Stephen started writing The Layers after losing someone close to him and considering whether a version of himself had also been lost. “I think The Layers is important because it sets out to de-normalise loss,” he says. “We’ll all experience grief and death in our lifetimes. The Layers shouts about that. It seeks to confront it but offers no suggestion of peace through doing so.” But the novel isn’t all doom and gloom. It highlights the joy and beauty of our most important relationships, and the imprints they leave behind even after they are gone. It is a life-affirming look at how we are reborn through our losses to truly appreciate the connections we have had and those which remain. It is a love story dedicated to all of our quirks, our eccentricities, our nuances, our layers.


Born in 1978, Stephen Reynolds lives in Bristol. He is the author of three non-fiction books on the subject of walking. His first novel, The Layers, was published by Valley Press in June 2021.


Edition: First

Date Published: 2021-06-17

ISBN: 9781912436590

Catalogue Number: VP0180

Number of Pages: 240

Cover design by Peter Barnfather

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