The Regrets: A Novel by Amy Bonnaffons

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“You’re insufficiently dead,” he said.

“I’m what?”

“Insufficiently dead. You lack rupture with your life. You have no exit narrative.”

This is a playful story about being dead and being alive. It’s just a state, really. Thomas Barrett has been trapped in nothingness due to some… mistake. He is insufficiently dead according to his visit to ‘the office’ and for the time being will exist in a state most will never have the chance to experience. Returned to earth with the living for a window of three months, he has rules that if he doesn’t follow will incur ‘regrets’. He’s best to forget the heaviness of his other life, and just enjoy his time in the new one, as much as a person who doesn’t actually exist can. He must learn to let go of the past, the old life, that is for all intents and purposes extinguished.

Thomas first notices the girl at a coffee shop, captivated by her. He decides a ‘harmless crush from afar’ won’t incur regrets, nor harm anyone. Something about the girl with her dark hair, glasses, how she “doled out her attention” pulls him in. Unbeknownst to him, she doesn’t fully exist either, but her error is loneliness and not death.  The reader is introduced to Rachel who first notices Thomas at the bus stop, who seems to have some strange energy about him and, she notices, wears the same outfit every single day. Free of romantic entanglements for a year, she works as a reference librarian enjoying the fantasy of love and how it should be more than it’s actual crushing reality.  A daydreamer, who has ‘fallen in love with her own dreams’, the object of her fantasy is now the electric man at the bus stop. Catching sight of him fuels her desire that seems to ‘encompass the world’. Will it last? Or will her bubble burst? Despite her best efforts to ignore her wild attraction, a meeting takes place and so begins one strange romance between a man and woman who compliment one another in an impossible love story.

There is so much about himself he must keep hidden and not for the usual reasons men remain mum. He truly is not at liberty to tell her, but when his body begins to betray him revelations are impossible to avoid. Being with Rachel feeds the wish for Thomas to be more present, but it is a race against time. Rachel herself seems to be disappearing more in Thomas who is much like a daydream and nightmares haunt her sleep… love as mystery. But what will become of Rachel, is it possible she too could be on some strange edge of existence?

I enjoyed this novel, it’s a romance but the life vs death theme, the exploration of individual separateness and all that entails, made it a bit more meaty. Thomas may be insufficiently dead, but is Rachel insufficiently alive? Are many of us?  Delightful.

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Little, Brown and Company

 

Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains by Cassie Chambers

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Generosity was both an insurance police and a deeply held value.

Kentucky born Cassie Chambers grew up in Owsley County, all too aware of the hard-work and struggle her grandparents and their children dealt with. Cassie parents were both still working their way through college, living in Berea but close enough to her Mother Wilma’s family when they had her. With the impossible cost of childcare, they relied on those in Owsley to care for her, and it is here that Cassie ran around ‘getting into trouble’ and playing with her many cousins. It was a second home where she was privy to stories about all her aunts and uncles. It is also where she wondered why it was so important for her granny to see her mother Wilma get a college education, when for many it was never an option.

Working on a tobacco farm (Wilma’s family didn’t own it) was backbreaking labor, more incredible was her Aunt Ruth who was the best tobacco worker in the county, better than even some of the strongest men. Rising early in the mornings to help when she stayed with her kin, she saw firsthand that it was never an easy life. Her granny was just as hardworking, even at her advanced age and despite the poverty and years of struggle, she always had her pride and an easy smile for others.  It was through spending time with her clan that Cassie’s curious nature was fed, where she learned hands on science, engineering and art. With her parents as an example, education was a goal knew she must strive for. So how did this young girl whose family tree is deeply rooted in Appalachia find the wherewithal to attend Yale and Harvard, becoming a lawyer?

Obstacles in the mountains of Kentucky can feel insurmountable when each day is a struggle just to feed one’s family. When there isn’t work to be had, when you live below government-designated poverty, when the counties haven’t developed like the rest of the country and the rest of the world has forgotten you. Where all politician’s promises fall by the wayside once they are in office, if they even notice you at all. Here, one must wrestle with leaving the support and strong bonds of family to find work, and anyone who has ever attempted such a thing without money (even with a college degree) understands it can be quite a feat. Staying can feel easier, but it is not without hardship. An education, as seen through Cassie’s rise and the opposite end, as we see with her cousin Melissa’s choices, is jarring. As Cassie reiterates, they are the same in so many ways, born from the same stock, branches on the same tree yet Melissa had drug addicted parents. Drug addiction haunts the hills, there isn’t much hope in a place that offers nothing for it’s young by way of entertainment, where health care is shaky at best, where the coal mines were never as big as in other counties and tobacco farming collapsed. This is a land where fields are left empty and yet they are a proud, strong people. Where women throughout generations help in birthing children, because there isn’t anywhere else to go and if there is how can they afford the proper, necessary care?

Outsiders see only poverty and like Cassie says, feel pity and disgust, never getting past the surface to understand why natives feel such a connection to the land, generations in their family. Through the fear she and other women in her circle feel navigating the world outside rural Appalachia, it is evident how much courage it takes to strive for more. To judge the people as ignorant is a travesty, for they have learned how to exist in the past through feeding themselves and each other growing their own food (I have a garden, it’s not easy at all and has more failure than success), have worked with the harsh elements to survive, helping birth children, and her own granny could take apart anything and put it back together for the better. Stupid? Not one bit. Lazy, pitiable? No way! By returning to lift those in need, with her education in hand, it is inspiring. Women, in this memoir, lifted each other even while they themselves had nothing. Ruth, the older sister, was selfless providing in every way she could for Cassie’s mother Wilma so that she could find a better life. This support, in turn, made Cassie’s future possible too. It warms the heart see such generosity come from people who have so little. That the rest of the world looks down upon people, like Cassie’s Papaw whose work was backbreaking and long, far harder than anything most of them have ever done, is shameful. These are folks, especially the women, who somehow manage to feed their children while working their weary hands to the bone and still feel a sense of duty to their community while keeping faith in their god by living what they preach.

This is a tribute to the women whose grit was passed down to Cassie. Rather than bemoaning their circumstances, they get things done and often in creative ways. Like Cassie said, there is no such thing as “I can’t do it.” It wasn’t easy for Cassie to work hard, to step outside the comfort of her family and assimilate into an elite place (Ivy League schools) but with the strength of her family’s blood running through her veins, she wasn’t going to give in to self-defeat, it isn’t their way.

Hill Women is a heart-felt, engaging telling of one girls rise from poverty that was only possible through the love and support of the strong, wise women before her.

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Ballantine Books

 

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

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As a writer and mother myself, I am struck by how contemporary Jackson’s dilemmas feel: her devotion to her children coexists uneasily with her fear of losing herself in domesticity.

I have been reading several biographies and memoirs while reading arcs and have been gravitating towards artistic, powerful women like Shirley Jackson- whether they felt powerful in their own lives or not. I am not sure how I missed reading this when it came out in 2016 but I was deeply engaged, losing sleep to get to the end as I couldn’t put this book down. A Rather Haunted Life, indeed. Haunted not by ghosts nor black magic and all things witchy but haunted in the way many women’s lives are, especially in times when making more than your spouse and writing stories that made people uncomfortable were suspect. Haunted by the demands of motherhood, a hunger to write with meaning, expectations of her own parents, by her own insecurities and infidelity, and the severe judging eyes of fans and detractors how could she maintain stability? Those were just some of the demons in her head. One commonality in many writer’s (artists) I have noticed through the years is voice, they turn to it because it’s not just a calling but a way of asserting themselves in the world. Shirley Jackson rumors float around even today, that she was superstitious or studied witchcraft, and surely she fueled it early on herself and why not? It’s an image that sells  (especially if you write creepy stories) but Franklin’s biography dispels Shirley as a myth and makes her a very real person. It encompasses her origins, her family history, her husband Stanley Hyman, her children and everything in between. You cannot really write about Shirley’s passions without including those she spent her life with and loved.  You cannot dismiss the very people that molded, guided her decisions, for better or worse.

Interesting that when Shirley wrote about her domestic life, motherhood it wasn’t what some wanted. Why must a woman be one or the other, a career woman or mommy? Why can’t she have the ability to terrify, to expose the monsters within, to express spirals into madness and yet also adore her children, the little savages, and write about motherhood, the ups and downs of domesticity? As if you can’t be a mother (and enjoy it) and also conjure creepy fiction. Maybe she didn’t concern herself with being a feminist, yet she was. Through her writing, she gave voice to the outsider, and exposed terrifying hypocrisy. It’s strange to root through another’s life posthumously, but Franklin’s writing about many of the struggles Shirley faced lends her stories that much more meaning. She wrote about the fears so many women had then, try so hard to conquer even today! Shirley exposed the cracks in the 1950’s ever smiling, not a hair out of place model of a female. It wasn’t a better time, one was just expected to maintain that happy illusion of everything is fine, nothing to see here. Her own mother certainly had a problem with that, being a fine lady herself. You don’t show the dirt, you sweep it under the rug!

Reading about her relationship with her mother (Geraldine Jackson) gutted me and lends credibility to why she wrote what she did, her characters turning their back on social mores, usually to extreme consequences. It’s no wonder she saw those fine citizens as smoldering with the desire to tar and feather anyone different, to burn them with modern day witch hunts, that she fueled the image of being a witch- there is power in it. It was said of Shirley’s mother, “…she tried valiantly to shape her daughter in her image”, something Geraldine would never succeed at. It weighed on Shirley though, those attempts. Shirley knew all too well how it felt to want to shuck off the past, the expectations of parents (society) and wanted to re-invent herself and the world is very lucky that she didn’t heed the words to  cultivate charm, and “seek out the good in others, rather than explore for evil.” For it is this digging into the psyche and exposing the poison in society that resonates even now with readers. She does away often with the mother, no wonder… Life is funny, children aren’t all little mirrors, and as was the case with Shirley she was the child that would test her mother’s vanity, ego. Shirley was haunted by her mother’s criticisms, unable to even voice how damaging her mother’s words could be, even when Jackson was shining, successful- still never the pretty, little daughter her beautiful mother wanted. We all know how no amount of creative genius in a woman seems to be enough in a world where pretty beats all!

Marrying Stanley Hyman, a highly respected literary critic and professor of literature was a marriage of minds but his feelings for monogamy downright became a torment to Shirley, how could it not? Shirley who spent so much of her life rejected by her mother, who wanted love and acceptance and deserved to feel it, eclipsed in many ways by her husband humiliating her as a woman, with his affairs. She knew early on, is likely the defense, that he did not hold much stock in monogamous relationships, didn’t believe in them. Of course they loved each other, there is no doubt by the accounts within this insightful book but her husband also appears to have put a lot on her shoulders, haranguing her into writing, even when she was unstable. He just didn’t see the toll everything in life was having on her, creating when the pen won’t budge maddening enough without all the haunting of the soul.

There was happiness and this book is by no means all doom and gloom. She and Stanley had romance, he was very impressed by her fiction writing, so much so realizing very early in their courtship he couldn’t compete. She loved him enough to marry someone  her parents weren’t sold on, after-all he was Jewish and you didn’t marry outside your religion. Shirley loved the children they had together, without a doubt! He absolutely admired her talent, they were well matched as much as ill suited, she was more sensitive than her humor, wit would have one believe and he, a cold indifferent partner at times was an obstacle in their love. It was all about their own personal natures coming together, as it is in any relationship. There were ups and downs, they made a life, they had a family, they managed careers- things fell apart, things held together. She never did leave him, did she? Not until her death anyway. Shirley dealt with serious crippling anxiety, even agoraphobia and the medicine back then often exacerbated one’s mental struggles, even her weight loss (dieting) had unhealthy consequences to her mental well being.  It’s fascinating because she struggled with self-acceptance on one hand but was also confident enough in her talents to publish, indulging in her pleasures (food, friends, motherhood) and with her own writing confronted her mother in a roundabout way. She wasn’t a mythical, spell conjuring witch, she was a talented, intelligent, writer, a loving mother, and a loyal wife. She wasn’t one thing, she was many.  This is one of the best biographies I have ever read that deals with it’s subject with humanity, admiration and compassion.  I was surprised by the emotions A Rather Haunted Life evoked within me. I am very happy I finally read it!

This was a beautifully written biography.

Published in 2016

Liveright

 

Indelicacy: A Novel by Amina Cain

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“You’re different from when I last saw you,” she said.

“I married someone rich. Is that what you mean?”

She nodded. “It agrees with you.”

Vitória has been working since she was a child of twelve years old, years spent earning her keep, working her hands raw. Now a cleaner in an art museum alongside her friend Antoinette, she yearns for the freedom to think, write, exist for more than tidying up after the rest of the world. They spend their days dreaming of a time when Vitória can write and Antoinette will finally have a man to love, though sadly she is sure if she is lucky enough to marry her suitor will be dirt poor. Despite her ragtag life, Vitória finds pleasure in the small things, like the luxury of simply reading a book before bed at night. She has never felt she deserved anything, and even after her luck turns and she marries into wealth and comfort, she still imagines she is better fit to scrub the museum floors than peruse it’s paintings. She is too ashamed to face Antoinette, embarrassed by the easy wealth- after all, marriage was always her friend’s dream, not hers!

Through marriage she tries on being someone else, with creature comforts and time on her hands, will her writing unfurl? If it’s not love, then maybe rescue is enough. She will soon learn there are many ways a woman can be confined. She is much like a bug trapped in a jar, despite her windfall of luck. She finds time just as demanding, but now it’s about entertaining guests, decorating herself in the finest dresses and jewelry (a far cry from the ugly things she and Antoinette so hated). Struggling now with her husbands lack of faith in her intelligence, missing her dear friend she didn’t even say goodbye to, suspicious of the maid Solange who makes her feel like an impostor in her new life (there is no sisterhood bonding to be had there), the dream isn’t quite as she imagined. She enjoys the lovemaking, despite not being in love but is it enough? Vitória knows all too well what many women in her former life would give to be in her shoes. But would they too be as disturbed to learn pretty, expensive shoes pinch?

She is free, but has to ask her husband for everything, much like a spoiled child. She turns to dancing classes trying to flow with her new life. Luxury starts to feel so good, something to sink into and yet happiness eludes her still. She gets inventive in the bedroom and she tries to think of ways to become more worldly, to fit better into her husband’s world. After a time she finds her friend Antoinette again, which gets her thinking more about what she truly desires. So the cogs of her mind begin turning, is this the house she should be in or is there something else out there?

This is a novel about class which affords one opportunity or not. It is an exploration of desire, hope, and the chains of dreams. What does it take to get where you want to be? It’s distasteful to imagine someone marrying without love in their heart, but what if it’s a means to escape drudgery, poverty and hope to better your life? Is it really so shocking Vitória would prefer marrying a rich man over scrubbing floors and living with the threat of the streets nipping at her heels? Yet, gilded cages have their trappings too. It’s an old story. In both lives, she is looking for escape yet it should be easier with a full belly and money. The feminist theme swims throughout the chapters, she doesn’t feel she deserves a good turn, her writing is silly to her husband (what gravity could there be in her words, this slip of a thing, a poor, little female he rescued), that in a privileged life there is still a role to dress for, expectations and the sexual exploration (goes without saying). The shame, the shame for grabbing whatever she could.

I think the struggle I had was connecting with Vitória, I liked her friend Antoinette better. I think Vitória was distant which is strange because if I were to connect with any woman in this novel it should have been her. I actually would have liked more of Solange’s story, but it’s still well written. I liked it but the only fable, to my mind, was how fast the marriage happened.

Publication Date: Febraury 11, 2020

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

 

 

Fenella, A Witch by Stefanie Moers (The Driftless Unsolicited Novella Series)Here

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She has done something so bad and there isn’t even enough of herself to feel bad about doing it. 

What Fenella has done is commit a heinous crime involving a decapitated head. Or has she? She wakes in the morning going about her witchy ablutions, not feeling fully herself, as if lost in the woods, maybe she can find a tiny bit of guilt but not for the reason she should. Fenella has no idea why she did ‘it’, and there isn’t even “enough left of herself to feel bad about doing it.”

Her victim is a forgotten thought, of very little importance to her, if she has done something and isn’t just delusional. She is half awake through her days, because “her dreams are much more interesting than her life.” She is haunted by a dream about a child of her own that doesn’t yet exist, and ponders the importance of feelings. But does she herself actually feel anything beyond cruelty? Fully absorbed in all things witches since youth, everything she knows about them from books, she is now a part of the glamour. Nothing pleases her more than being a thorn in the world’s side, as evidenced by her childish encounter with a little girl in the library.

A little too enamored of her collection of flats and the color black, she readies herself for ‘questioning’, as if the color is a protection, powerful. Her lawyer friend Flora has quite the task before her, frustrated with her dangerous, fantastical ‘act’. She thinks she knows what caused Fenella to slip into a fantasy, but no way, Fenella could never be an ordinary woman, those sort of things never happen to witches. The elements can be controlled, in her mind, and even a storm can turn against a person!

It is a grim reality, this trial, and she is playful with her freedom, as if it’s a game. Did she commit murder or didn’t she? Is she a powerful witch or caught in a web of delusions? Can a modern day witch be charged with a crime or are those days passed? What of sisterhood? Is sisterhood protection? Guilt is a funny creature.

This was a strange book, it had it’s moments, it was absurd. I just kept thinking, what a sad witch. She got lost in literature, that’s for sure.

Published October 18, 2019

Brain Mill Press

Oona Out of Order: A Novel by Margarita Montimore

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Each year her body was hers, but her mind was out of sync with her reflection. Always playing catch-up, trying to rearrange the scrambled pieces of her life.

Oona Lockhart is out of order, at least according to the timeline of her entire life. It begins at a party in Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve, on the precipice of turning nineteen and making a big decision that is guaranteed to alter her future. She is struggling with her heart and mind. Oona has the opportunity to go to London to study economics or stay behind with the love of her young life Dale who wants to go on tour, this could be the big break they need in the music industry! Dale doesn’t know about London, neither does her liberal mother who could use a lesson in setting boundaries, providing structure in her daughter’s life. She would like to keep it that way, thank you, until she is sure of her decision. With her best friend pushing her to make the wise choice that will certainly ‘open doors’, all Oona wants is a night to enjoy the moment, not have to think about the looming choice she is wrestling with. Whose dream is it, what will she choose? She wishes she didn’t have to, maybe she doesn’t! A strange feeling overwhelms her as the countdown towards midnight, and her nineteenth birthday begins. Before she can figure out if she is dying or ill, she is out…

When Oona ‘comes to’ it is no longer 1982, it is now 2015 and there is a stranger helping her remember what happened, where she is, who she is now. Apparently she is a 52 year old woman who, though definitely still herself, is a complete stranger! An older man, but somehow younger than her seems to know her better than she knows herself, helps to ease her into this terrifying world, just what is going on? Who is he? Where is she? This is just the beginning of her time jumps, and her life is a puzzle she has to put back together every single time she experiences a hop. Can she learn to avoid mistakes, to change her future by fixing the past, make a fortune with stock tips? What about love, how much better can it be when you have seen the future… will she avoid love traps or learn to take whatever is offered and go with it, whether it ends in disaster or not.

Oona is out of order, much as we all are. Maybe it’s my age but it had me thinking about memory, how in some ways life is always a puzzle even when it seems to run in a straight line… that’s really just an illusion. This novel is about the game of hindsight for me, we all read different stories as we base it on our own emotional state, age… there will come a time, if you are lucky to live long enough, that you will feel like you’re looking at a stranger in the mirror. We are many people, many ages in one body, always. The older I get, the more I know everything is a gamble, the ‘safe’ option never existed. Other people are always the independent variable, because in a blink anything can and often will change. There is no set formula for any life, ever.

Oona must learn to set anchor on whatever shore of time she makes land and live her life to the fullest going on scant information. Any time it seems she is figuring things out, comfortable in the now (though still longing for her first love Dale) time change is coming with the new year. In a way they are like small deaths. There is a line “You know how messed up it is to be told what you’re like by someone who’s a stranger to you?” that I find incredibly insightful, because don’t we at some point live with people telling us who we are? Isn’t that happening already at the start when she has her best friend telling her she wants to go to London, and her boyfriend selling her his dream so she stays because of her love for him? For Oona, even her older self is a stranger telling her who she is and what to do, or not do, same thing!   She will try and love who she is with, both friends and partners alike, while relying on clues from her future and past self. I really loved the surprise, it has so much heart. One moment she’s 19, the next 52, and on and on it goes. Does the order matter? Can a life be lived lost in time, so to speak?

Sure, we all do it now, winging it despite our best laid plans and what an adventure!

Publication Date: February 25, 2020   (unless you’re Oona then it could be 1982, 2015…)

Flatiron Books

Oligarchy: A Novel by Scarlett Thomas

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You are a dangerous little group of replicating cells,” says Madame Vincent.

Natalya “Natasha”, having spent her childhood in Russia with her mother in poverty is sent by her father, a Russian Oligarch (whom she doesn’t have a relationship with) to a boarding school in England.  In the English countryside, two weeks after school has already started, she is thrust into a life among privileged girls. With the guidance of her paternal Aunt Sonja into this alien life of decadence, her head is soon filled with the warped expectations of girls and women of wealth. Body image serves as an obsession for the students with their fiercely dangerous dieting, which begins as a game (to the brink of starvation) as much as the obsession over the legend of Princess Augusta(the school’s founder) and her black diamond, who drowned herself in the lake for the forbidden love of a commoner. The lake has a pull for the girls, that proves downright fatal again and again.

Natasha’s Russian ways don’t seem much of a problem, for she has shucked that old life in favor of  becoming just like her beautiful, privileged peers focused on counting calories, hating her body, pushing it to the brink of death. She is reborn, she is someone new, no longer the poor little Russian girl back home who is damned to end up like her sad mother. Here she is delicate, a slip of a girl like all the others, who the locals can’t stomach and the staff and headmaster in particular cannot seem to contain.

When Bianca is summoned yet again to the headmaster (whose job is to improve upon their naughty behavior) she doesn’t come back. She is suddenly gone, vanished just like the disgusting fat the girls stave off their bodies. Natasha, along with her friends, are involved in the fabrication to keep the truth of Bianca’s disappearance hidden from the rest of the boarders. Dr. Moone thinks it best, we mustn’t upset the others. But the mystery surrounding what did happen to her doesn’t sit well with Natasha, feeling something sinister is taking place. The only weight on these sylphlike girls seems to be the pressures of beauty and the expectations from the world and each other until now. Young girls don’t just die from not eating, or if they do, not in so dramatic a fashion. As Dr. Moone decides to take the girls in hand and deal with the infection of their eating disorders, things turn bizarre. The students aren’t the only ones that try to corral their urges, their obsessions into some sense of order. The adults have their secrets too.

What happened to the headmaster’s wife, could that tragedy bleed into the present? What is the true story behind Princess Augusta, who some girls swear haunt the school. Natasha is torn between her old life and the  new, between her promise to write letters to her old Russian “friend” Nico and her father’s lawyer’s spoiled son Teddy who fits her life better. This diet, this game where the prize is unclear? A perfect form? Death? Power in denial of food? How did the girls get this idea in their heads, the slow disappearing? Where is the glory? Why is the image so seductive to them, such a prize to attain, this fragile, wispy look- weightlessness? Is this life, as her father’s daughter, so much better than the one before?

For Natasha and her peers, this school is a world. Their own oligarchy is the older girls setting the standards for the others. As Madame Vincent tells them, “You are a dangerous little group of replicating cells.” They find meaning in depleting their bodies of nourishment, it’s a competition but what about the crushlets (the younger girls who look up to you). Imagine, it could be an epidemic! Could the adults in charge be feeding the disease even while bringing in a team to teach them about health? Then the death of  their biology teacher rocks their world again, a new scandal to hide, the discovery of an incident involving the girls after heavy drinking. This is a microscope on the fragility of trust, of the dangers of letting go their inhibitions.

The book had dark humor, it could be exhausting though reading about dieting, calorie counting, and the demons of body image. I was saddened that Natasha’s relationship with her father felt more like a distant star we never touch. Aunt Sonja is reckless to any young girl with her sad conflicting advice. This is who is meant to carry her, to help her assimilate into the new world of her father, the oligarch? Princess Augusta’s tale is a germ for the impressionable girls, so hungry for guidance, meaning and how easy it is to manipulate their imaginations.

I think I am still digesting this, digesting… an apt word I think. I would have enjoyed this novel more if it focused on Natasha as a Russian, on her father who didn’t feel real to me at all (maybe the point, he’s not solid for Natasha either) and if the other girls had more substance, flesh (there I go again), more life inside of them, making them real rather than just starving birds on the verge of flying away. It’s a satire, keep that in mind. I am a fan of Scarlett Thomas, my favorite being Our Tragic Universe but this is a very different book. I liked it well enough even if I didn’t like any of the characters it was an interesting story once I got past the food obsession.

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

Counterpoint