Happy New Year everyone! Somehow, January is slipping by at a rapid rate and I have struggled to connect with you all before now! 2017 is shaping up to be a fabulous year and I am most excited about the changes coming to thebookkat and while I am still working out some of the details, I can’t wait to share them with you soon… watch this space!
Most years I like to set myself a reading goal for the year. It is a fun way of challenging myself and mixing up what I read! This year, I’m not setting myself a particular goal. I feel like I lost my way last year and didn’t read enough of what I wanted to read. I let external channels influence my reading choices too much and so my only hope for this year is to return to my roots and read what I love and in turn, share more of those books with you! So far this year I have reread an old YA favourite, I got through a full collection of poetry, and came to the end of one of my favourite fantasy series… but more on that to come!
Last week I finished The Love of a Bad Man by Laura Elizabeth Woollett. It is a brilliant, bizarre and quite horrific collection of short stories imagining the lives of twelve women from history who were aligned with ‘bad men’. These women were mistress’, accomplices and/or victims to these men and Woollett has blended true crime and fiction in a really unsettling way. No previous knowledge of the people or history is needed; I only recognised two of the twelve sets of names!
These stories will get under your skin. They’re unsettling, not only because I don’t like true crime, but because Woollett’s perspective creates characters that are complex, distinct and most horrifyingly, relatable. In an attempt to understand the monstrous, Woollett explores the distorted view of the lover’s gaze and the lengths people will go to for the ones they love. Not only does the lover’s gaze eroticise the behaviour, it also makes them seem more human. She questions the nature of desire and what it is that makes us stay with someone who is bad, or bad for ourselves. Why are we (humans) so quick to forgive or turn a blind eye towards ‘bad’ behaviour?
These twelve stories explore the inferior relationship between men and women and how the behaviour is mostly driven by female insecurity. For example, Eva Braun was a seventeen-year-old girl when she became involved with Hitler. Woollett portrays her as an immature and attention seeking young woman. There are repeated references to how… unfortunate a person Hitler is yet Braun resorts to suicide attempts as a way of gaining Hitler’s attention and getting what she wants. Woollett has her admitting that she doesn’t know what is good or bad anymore and always references Hitler as ‘Him’, emphasising Braun’s god-like view of him.
The Love of a Bad Man is a debut book and boy, is it good! Woollett’s writing is engaging and her characters brilliantly researched and developed – they each have a voice that really brings them to life. For me, it was one of those rare instances where I was compelled to read content that I really dislike reading because the writing was so good. This book won’t be for everyone but I really, really think it is worth a go!
Published by Scribe Publications