pont neuf

There's a new player in town.

Move over, Mills & Boon. Start spinning, Cartland. The flamboyant solicitor in charge of high-profile divorce firm Vardags is publishing her first novel, and it's a racy tome about incest.

Ayesha Vardag's literary debut has been dropping chapter-by-chapter each week on the CEO’s substack.

Pont Neuf tells the story of Soraya, a young woman who reunites with her estranged father, a Pashtun politician, who lowers her defences with promises that he can make her the leader of Pakistan.

Unfortunately, dad's actual designs on his 18-year-old daughter are less noble, necessitating a content warning on the e-book's e-jacket that "Pont Neuf contains explicit sexual content and adult themes, some of which are essentially light and fluffy but some of which, like racism, sexual and domestic abuse and the rarely-named problem of incestuous desire, may cause you distress".

Given that Pont Neuf's blurb promises “incest and orgasms, racism and repression”, it's more likely Vardag’s subscribers would have felt shortchanged if it didn't contain a good dollop of taboo erotica.

The hair-raising smut has only just begun to take centre stage in the most recent chapters Vardag has published. 

Challenging scenes find Soroya frozen in bed as her father “curved his body up against her like spoons, and she felt, pressed against her buttocks, a full, hard, erection”.

Having manoeuvred the teenager onto his lap under the pretence of demonstrating how she can obtain satisfaction with her boyfriend, her dad explains to the mortified heroine that, “while she’s moving up and down on his penis she can rub her clitoris back and forth on his body in the way that feels good for her - then she can get the stimulation she needs to come”.

For Vardags staff, the depictions of incest - and Soroya’s adventures with a vibrating shoulder massager in Chapter 13: Multiple Orgasms - are likely to be the most disconcerting sections of the audiobook which Vardag is recording to accompany her novel-in-progress.

But readers will find much more in Pont Neuf than icky titillation. Vardag's literary debut marries a rich prose style and a melancholy tone to explore Soroya's experiences with romance, racism, and folklore, as well as her encounters with her predatory father.

"This is about a girl who slipped through the cracks between two cultures, about how British racism created shame and self-loathing in her as a child, how paternal abandonment made her feel she didn’t deserve male love, how her father not watching her grow up made him see her a sex object and how some of the contradictions of South Asian culture led to her being exposed to incestuous sexual abuse", explained Vardag in her foreword.

“Writing this is my grand passion, my overwhelming purpose”, she explained, although she warned readers not to associate her too closely with the narrative. 

“There are similarities, in what I write, to people who are living, or dead. I’m a writer, and I’m inspired, like all writers, by my experience", she said.

"But it’s no one’s story but my own. And not even entirely that. I have mixed and matched my life with the lives of others and mixed their lives between them, so that in the end, everything here is true but it is no one’s true story, and everything is real but no one is real".

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PontNeuf Uck 30 June 23 09:13

Nowt wrong with a bit of smut, but I don't understand how it can be...ok...to encourage people to get aroused by the thought of a father having sex with his daughter?

Bingo 30 June 23 09:55

Let's be constructive with criticism, please. It's bloody hard to write a novel, and it's clearly a passion project. 

I say we should applaud creativity.

A good editor could provide a few pointers and this could at some point be picked up by a publisher.

Anonymous 30 June 23 10:11

@PontNeuf Uck - I'm always amazed by how big a market there is for this particular 'niche' interest. To the point that it's not an obscure fetish that you can only find by actively looking for it, but it's so in demand by its audience that it bleeds out into spaces that are supposed to be home to more conventional entertainment.

I have heard, from others you understand, that you can go online looking for some regular, mostly vanilla, pornography featuring a buxom* young woman simulating enjoyment in the company of a chap with an impractically large appendage, but then a notable minority of what comes back has icky 'family' themes on it. Which completely kills one's mood and makes you wonder why you went and got that box of tissues in the first place.

I don't want to kink-shame, but it's completely weird, I think people should be put in jail for enjoying it, and I'm distressed to see it becoming increasingly mainstream. 

Who are these reprehensible perverts amongst us, and how can we bring them justice?



*and/or with oversized buttocks, whatever floats your boat.

I wonder? 30 June 23 10:13

I wonder what Ms Vardags reaction would be, had this been written by one of her underlings?


Presumably they would looking for alternative employment by now?



Nine to five 30 June 23 10:16

Could she have not just written it but without the incest...? I mean, with a non-consanguineous step-father character much of the same effect could be achieved, but without leaving the reader with the urge to vomit on their shoes...

Anonymous 30 June 23 10:16

"I wonder what Ms Vardags reaction would be, had this been written by one of her underlings?"


Was the underling in question wearing a cardigan at the relevant time?

flustered 30 June 23 10:17

Given the infamous Vardags dress code, surely there's a scene where he rips off her cardigan.

'Read the rules on the fridge, girl - these are BANNED in my house! And so are pants.'

Anonymous 30 June 23 10:18

"I say we should applaud creativity."

... and I say that we should ask the SRA whether they think that writing a novel about hosing your daughter brings the profession into disrepute.

Toe-may-to, Toe-mah-to.

Gru 30 June 23 10:23

An SRA job? That's hilarious.

We've already got them acting as moral scolds when it comes to office romances, now you puritans want them to clamp down on fictional romances as well??

Lawyers: dare to write about imaginary things happening for fun, and risk getting struck off.

Be very careful what you wish for.

Oh dear oh dear 30 June 23 13:36

Are Vardags struggling that badly that she needs to sell poorly written fanfiction smut to make ends meet?

Anonymous 01 July 23 17:34

I pity the poor sods that work for her and have to pretend to have enjoyed reading it.

Because you know "I read the first three chapters but it wasn't really my cup of tea" is not the right answer.

Anon 01 July 23 17:52

Just when it’s been a week without this woman in the news… she does something even more bonkers. 

Troubled 02 July 23 19:22

Some questions:                                                 - Ayesha, are you ok?                                         - publisher, are you ok?                                       - purchaser of book, are you ok?

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