Yes, do take a second glance at the cover! Very clever indeed, and a strikingly simple image which is oddly chilling. I think that this is one of the most uncomfortable books I’ve ever read. It’s amazing, hooking you from the first paragraph with horrified fascination, and unfurls like a poisonous spider about to devour its prey.
Celeste is a beautiful woman, married to a firefighter, and intensely frustrated. She’s only sexually attracted to teenage boys, and working as a teacher, temptation is everywhere. Selecting her victim carefully, she manipulates him into a full sexual relationship, and her obsession soon escalates into something with repercussions even she couldn’t begin to imagine.
This is no Mrs Robinson. Celeste consciously uses society’s double standards and preconceptions about female sexuality to get her own way – she is a predator, not a fantasy. Her sheer callousness is staggering, and it’s this that makes her such a compelling narrator. While you despise her, you have to know how it will all play out – will she be caught, and will justice be done?
It’s very shocking and sexually explicit which makes it a disturbing, uncomfortable read. What motivates such deviancy and sociopathy in a seemingly normal, privileged woman? There aren’t really any answers here, but it certainly does make you think about our societal beliefs in relation to gender and power. It’s a book that haunts you, and next time you read about an older woman seducing a young boy, it will make you question people’s attitudes, and particularly the media. A brave, powerful story, that raises a lot of challenging questions, at the same time as sending a shiver of revulsion down your spine. Recommended. Rating:****
Faber & Faber, 2014, ISBN 9780571303335