Beth an artist is a woman harassed in life, torn between her American partner Sol, thirteen year old daughter Fern – art and the disappearance of her mother when she was just thirteen. Beth is a complicated and highly anxious protagonist, who is encouraged by Sol, so seek therapy with Dr Tamara Bywater – who offers some strategies for Beth to manage her life. All is going well until Dr Bywater asks about Beth’s mother….
As the counselling continues, Beth becomes enraptured with Tamara Bywater, is it a therapy thing sort of infatuation, her imagination running away with her, or is it a deliberate part Dr Bywater’s mind games?
What damage will this do?
I had great difficulty getting into this book. The writing style is flowery and scatty, just like Beth I guess; and it took a good number of chapters for me to become immersed in Beth’s life (maybe this flowery style was part of the authors carefully constructed prose – to mimic Beth’s internal struggles and scattiness). Having said that, it is easy to read and the characters are well defined, they easily come to life and are relatable: mother vs teenage angst, wife vs partner, relationships, money, work and the stresses of life.
Joanna Briscoe is very adept at sharing and exposing the characters emotional trials. I became enraptured with the protagonist’s feelings and her emotional rollercoaster with herself and the others close to her. This is a kaleidoscope of emotions: love, trust, lust and power. Briscoe has an undeniable talent to explore intimate relationships and the flaws in human nature, she also highlights with Beth, that decisions made spontaneously and in the moment have consequences that may last forever.
This is a very original modern twist of a romantic novel and I would recommend it as a good read if you enjoy this type of genre. The floaty style of writing, I initially found difficult, primarily because I think it is not something I am used reading, but it complements the storyline completely and is very well written and draws the reader in.
The Seduction is published by Bloomsbury Books and is available here.
Joanna Briscoe is the author of five previous novels, including the bestselling Sleep With Me, which was adapted for ITV by Andrew Davies. She has been a columnist for the Independent and the Guardian, is a literary critic for the Guardian, and broadcasts regularly on Radio 4. Joanna lives in London.
Reviewed by Amanda Brightman
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