*spoiler alert: some plot revealing goes on*
“I drove myself out of New York City where a man shot himself in front of me.”
Belter of a first sentence, isn’t it?
“He was a gluttonous man and when his blood came out it looked like the blood of a pig.“
The second sentence keeps the pace up.
“That’s a cruel thing to think, I know. He did it in a restaurant where I was having dinner with another man, another married man. Do you see how this is going? But I wasn’t always that way.“
The remainder of the opening paragraph does not let you down.
This book crackles along in pretty much this vein for 390 pages. It is a quick read, and an easy read, despite the fact that the subject matter is at times disturbing. There is sex and violence – fairly obviously from the quotes above – infidelity, drug and drinking aplenty, a weirdly ineffective hostage-revenge period, and one of the most audacious and beautiful (?) miscarriage scenes.
There is a lot of internal monologue from Joan, the central character, who takes us back through her relationship history in a fairly hit and miss kind of way. Her voice is never dull. It slips around, is elusive and tricksy, sometimes unreliable, ‘economical with the truth’ as the phrase will have it, but never, never dull. And in a sense, never dishonest – she tells her history of herself, with nothing left out. It feels like a road-trip book.
It is not the same thing as her previous fact-based Three Women, but the connections between them are easy to see.
I loved it.