I found Lioness to be an engrossing read, but it didn’t stay with me. As a middle-aged woman, I could identify with Therese’s questioning of herself and her life, and the urge to break out, smash everything and live more authentically (I mean, who doesn’t, right?). I also fell somewhat under the spell of the misfits she falls in with.
Lioness is beautifully written, often vivid and evocative. I did get sucked into the atmosphere. But the problem with writing about a woman who is something of a shell of a person, is that the creation is ephemeral. Therese does not have enough substance in her own right to stand out and stay in the mind over time. I did feel some force emerging but not enough to get a grip on.
I did reflect while reading that Therese is something of a limpet, looking for a rock to stick to. When the rock of her husband starts to dissolve, she needs to find a new rock, and for awhile at least she is lured by and attaches to Claire. While I could see the pathos in that, it makes her hardly likeable or admirable. Or memorable.
I think what ultimately makes this book lose a couple of stars, for me, is that it’s just not ‘modern’ enough. It could have ben written in the ’70s — think Fay Weldon. But while in the ’70s it might have been new and radical, today it feels rather been-there-done-that-bought-the-t-shirt. Hell, that t-shirt is so old and soft it’s now a duster.
Thanks to the publisher, author and Netgalley for the ARC. All my reviews are 100% honest and unbiased, regardless of how I acquire the book.
Published by Bloomsbury Circus, 6 Jul 2023.
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