The aim of a book festival is never a modest one: it is to change people’s lives and so to make the world a better place.

This is a rich first visit to Hay for me as I’m speaking about a book that I know won’t disappoint. Sensation is about a year spent learning everything I could that makes sex into better sex, in the context of a loving and monogamous long-term relationship.  As a society we have a perverse relationship to sexuality. The promise of an idealised form of sex is used to sell products and the impact of the porn industry makes us believe that whatever we are experiencing it’s not OK.  We are told that none of us work correctly or are good enough – and of course the opposite is true. But good monogamous sex, over a lifetime, rarely ‘happens naturally.’  We could learn a little.

While it is now more acceptable to discuss mental health it is still taboo to discuss sexual health. This is the worst area for a tendency we have to for ‘condemnation before examination.’ The fact that I have written a funny, accessible, first person narrative non-fiction account meant that the condemnation was extended to assumptions about the content that were neither correct nor kind. In short – writing about sensation in the body hasn’t been easy.

For these reasons I’m more than usually grateful to have be at Hay and to have an audience that I can entertain and to pass on some of the best of what I have learnt that’s nourishing for every couple and appreciated by single people – both men and women.  It’s wonderful to hear an audience laugh, to surprise them with honesty and to hear my erudite interviewer, the wonderful Rosie Boycott say, ‘I have never read any other book remotely like this in my entire life.’ The audience responds with enthusiastic questions and high book sales.  My heart sings because I know that every book will invite the reader to raise the priority of their intimate life. To make our sex lives happy and nourishing. What more important investment could there be in a relationship?

I’m also not to leave Hay without having my own life changed.  I was able to attend an event with Clemency Burton-Hill talking about her book Year of Wonder which introduces the reader to a new piece of classical music for every day of the year.  The blessing being given here is clear.  I’ve bought two copies (one for a friend) and I know that this music will inspire me on the happy days and console me on the sad ones.

From the letters I’ve received I know that Sensation enriches people’s lives and I know that my life will be enriched by Clemency’s book.  What a joy when the impact of one Winter Weekend will last a lifetime.


Isabel Losada appeared at Hay Festival Winter Weekend on Saturday 25 November 2017.