If you are looking for a novel about a broken woman going on a murderous rampage, this isn’t the book for you. This is a poetic, heartbreaking novel about a woman, Belle, who has endured a brutal act of misogynistic violence, and emigrates from Norway to America to start a new life. Once there, she continues her quest for unconditional love, only to find that no one fulfills her entirely realistic expectations.
Belle Gunness was a real person, who murdered 14 people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Victoria Kielland (and translator Damion Searles) have created a realistic and bleak portrait of a woman driven to extremes by her dissatisfaction with a cruel, sexist world. I was surprised how much I empathized with Belle; her struggles with feckless men unfortunately continue to resonate over 100 years later.
This is a quick read; the pace and structure makes for a perfect one-sitting read. There are parts that are grizzly, and the final paragraph is truly devastating, but this is mostly about a woman with mental health issues and no support. I’ll be thinking about Belle for a long time.
My Men will be released by Astra House on June 27th, 2023.
Thanks to Astra House for the ARC.
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