He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly.
This is a thriller that does not disappoint. The story is told through the perspectives of Kit and his wife Laura and partly through their ‘friend’ Beth.
Following eclipses around the world are Kit’s passion and the author cleverly uses this as a framing technique for each chapter, as well as a metaphor for the darkness/light of this unfolding drama.
The narrative goes back and forth in time between 1999 and 2015. Kit and Laura go to a festival in Cornwall to see an eclipse in 1999. Laura stumbles upon a young woman (Beth) being sexually assaulted. She calls the police and the novel follows the events after the attack.
Friends who have read this book have raved about it, and I must agree with their raving!
It is unputdownable. Just read it now! You can thank me later. Full of plot twists and turns which are wholly unpredictable. Relatable characters and a creepy storyline that has you guessing from start to finish. I loved it.
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.
This is my book of the year so far! I was concerned that the hype was overdone, but for once I agree wholeheartedly with all the praise. A brilliant book. I didn’t realize until I started reading it that it was based on real people and real events, which just made it even more engrossing.
Based on extensive interviews, Taddeo tells the stories of three women; Sloane, Maggie and Lina.
The book is written in the third person and reads like a novel which adds greatly to the dynamic. Sloane, a rich over achieving socialite who owns a restaurant with her husband, sleeps with other men while her husband watches. They both enjoy the thrill of it. Taddeo explores Sloane’s motivations, history and tragic vulnerability with incredible skill and exquisite prose.
Maggie’s story I found the most interesting of all. She has an affair with her teacher while she is underage. She later testifies against him for statutory rape and is belittled, humiliated and cast out by those in her community. Maggie has to watch from the side lines as this teacher wins awards and the adulation and support of all those around him, while he acts as if she never existed. Maggie, of all three women, wakes up to what has happened, how she has been mistreated and the scales fall from her eyes in relation to the true character of this man. Taddeo handles this story with sensitivity but does not shy away from brutal truths about all those involved.
The final story for me was pitiful. Lina is gang raped as a teenager, not even aware during the incident how horrific it is, due to being drunk and drugged. She never realizes the significance of what has happened to her. It also signals the end of the romance with her childhood sweetheart Aidan. Years later when Lina is married to a man who withholds affection and barely acknowledges her existence, Lina meets Aidan again and begins an affair. Her lack of self-awareness and her desperation to please only increase through the affair. Whilst I definitely felt pity for her, she was the only character I felt frustrated with, because she deserved so much better.
The stories of all three women are so full of humanity, it would make you want to cry. The stories illustrate in stark reality what happens when women do not love or respect themselves (often due to circumstances in childhood or other.) There is also the sense that these women are not supported by other women in the way they should be. Indeed, the author suggests as much in the prologue:
“it’s women . . . who have a greater hold over other women than men have. We can make each other feel dowdy, whorish, unclean, unloved, not beautiful.”
This is one of the most unique books I have ever read. It was shocking, yet believable, compassionate yet cruel. There were so many contradictions and I was left with the overwhelming feeling that although horrific events can happen to us in our lives, what matters are the choices we make afterwards. Unfortunately for these three women, those choices were not always the wisest, though they may have been the most understandable.
Please let me know your thoughts on either of the books above. I would love to know what you thought.