The envelope is unremarkable. There is no return address. It contains a single, folded, sheet of white paper.
The envelope drops through the mail slot like any other piece of post. But for the nine complete strangers who receive it – each of them recognising just one name, their own, on the enclosed list – it will be the most life altering letter they ever receive. It could also be the last, as one by one, they start to meet their end.
She’s always wanted to try sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside – the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and the vegetables grown by the other young artists at the London studio space she is secretly squatting in. But Lydia can’t eat any of this. The only thing she can digest is blood, and it turns out that sourcing fresh pigs’ blood in London – where she is living away from her vampire mother for the first time – is much more difficult than she’d anticipated.
Then there are the humans: the people at the gallery she interns at, the strange men who follow her after dark, and Ben, a goofy-grinned artist she is developing feelings for. Lydia knows that they are her natural prey, but she can’t bring herself to feed on them.
If Lydia is to find a way to exist in the world, she must reconcile the conflicts within her – between her demon and human sides, her mixed ethnic heritage, and her relationship with food, and, in turn, humans.
Before any of this, however, she must eat.
My Thoughts on Woman, Eating
Woman, Eating, is not your typical vampire novel. Yes, Lydia, the protagonist (a young woman who has recently put her vampire mother, and Sire, in a home because of an unknown illness similar to Dementia), drinks blood, is ageless, and sensitive to sunlight. But there is very little neck-biting, throat-ripping involved.
Instead, what Woman, Eating offers is a ‘coming of age’ story (this isn’t quite the right term but it’s the best I can come up with at the moment) about a young woman trying to figure out her place in a world where doesn’t quite fit and where she doesn’t have the confidence to be her true self. In that sense, Lydia represents so many young women, who are so often told what they should be and how they should act.
The fact that she’s a vampire is almost secondary. The hunger she feels is representative of the hunger we all (most of us?) feel when we start out adult life, to do well, to do more. I thought it was very clever in this regard. That doesn’t mean it was all good though, and I did have some reservations. Mainly that it went a bit too long without anything happening, that scenes were repeated once too often.
Is this the end of the world? No. But did I end up losing interest in the end? Yes. However, I would still say it’s worth a read. And that – for a debut novel – this was an impressive book. I look forward to seeing what Claire Kohda gives us next. 3.5/5 stars
Please note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair, honest, review. All thoughts, feelings, and opinions are my own.
Hello April! I have to say, I am really glad you are here as March was pretty rubbish. My daughter caught Covid, then my dad and my mom. And, while none of them were that badly affected (thankfully), it did add a complexity to the month (home-schooling, double-shopping) that I found difficult for some reason to bounce back from and why I didn’t do much blogging – though, here the fact that I struggled to find books that I enjoyed – also didn’t help.
Manchester, 1960s. Sally, a cynical 15-year-old schoolgirl, is much too clever for her own good. When partnered with her best friend, Pamela – a mouthy girl who no-one else much likes – Sally finds herself unable to resist the temptation of rebellion. The pair play truant, explore forbidden areas of the old school and – their favourite – torment posh Sylvia Rose, with her pristine uniform and her beautiful voice that wins every singing prize.
One day, Sally ventures (unauthorised, of course) up to the greenhouse on the roof alone. Or at least she thinks she’s alone, until she sees Sylvia on the roof too. Sally hurries downstairs, afraid of Sylvia snitching, but Sylvia appears to be there as well.
Amidst the resurgence of ghost stories and superstition among the girls, a tragedy is about to occur, one that will send Sally more and more down an uncanny rabbit hole…
Life is going well for Marie. She and her husband, Laurent, live a comfortable life in a large apartment in the eleventh arrondissement in Paris. Laurent has a good job at a big law firm and Marie enjoys her work at a bank, where she feels appreciated by her clients and colleagues.
Comfortable and secure, and ready for family life, the couple begin to try for a baby. But not long afterwards Marie experiences a shocking encounter which threatens to derail their plans completely, and her world slowly starts to fall apart.
Less than two years later, the family’s apartment is cordoned off by police tape as forensic officers examine a horrific scene in the family apartment. Three bodies around a dining table. Marie, Laurent and their little toddler, Thomas, in his high chair. All three of them have been poisoned by Marie.
This Little Family is a dark and furiously compelling novel about women, power and control, from a bright young star in French literature.
She used to want it all. Now she just wants a nap.
Tara Gallagher is knackered. She used to dream of being Beyoncé but suddenly she’s thirty-six – with three kids, a loving husband, a very boring job – and instead of headlining Coachella, she’s in her pyjamas on a Friday night, watching Gogglebox.
It’s time for a mammy makeover. She’s going to show her teenage daughter she’s still cool. She’s going to show her husband she’s still an absolute ride. She’s going to show her colleagues she’s still a Boss Bish.
But most of all, she’s going to prove to herself that she can still be a mum, still work full time, and still be Beyoncé…
I’m joining in with Top Ten Tuesday again this week, sharing some of the books I’m planning to read now Spring is here.
When it comes to reading, I’m not the most organised. It’s why I have given up on things like Good Reads and why my many attempts at starting a reading journal have failed. I never know what I’m going to read until I pick the book up – well, for the most part. There are books that I prioritise, either because they are ARCs or they are library books. Beyond that, though, I read as the mood takes me. Which means I don’t have a Spring TBR, just a list of books that I have to read, or think I might fancy….
In the bedroom above her immense studio at Burntcoat, the celebrated sculptor Edith Harkness is making her final preparations. The symptoms are well known: her life will draw to an end in the coming days.
Downstairs, the studio is a crucible glowing with memories and desire. It was here, when the first lockdown came, that she brought Halit. The lover she barely knew. A presence from another culture. A doorway into a new and feverish world.
Happy Sunday and welcome to another weekly update where I share a little about what’s happened to me this week and the books I’ve reviewed.
I didn’t post a lot this week. It started well. But, as the week went on, I lost focus. Work wasn’t to blame (for once), just a general malaise based on what is going on with the world. My heart is breaking. I feel powerless. And blogging seems a bit pointless. But it is also a point of normality, which I need to stop me doom scrolling and staring at the news. So I decided to try and stick to a routine and post today.
So I fear this may be a standard refrain on my monthly round-ups – where did February go? After the last two years going sooooo slooooowly, here we are rushing through February – time to round-up of books I’ve read, and what I thought about them…