I am still struggling to understand what this book made me feel or whether it left any impression on me at all.
What I could sense in Nutting's writing, was an eagerness to cause the readers to recoil in horror and to make them experience the full impact of being inside a scheming, conniving, good-looking hebephile like Celeste Price's head.
And I might say, she does succeed in that venture to a certain extent.
But don't mistake this for another Lolita
(although I am yet to finish reading it) from a female sexual predator's point of view. Alissa Nutting maybe good but her writing doesn't even come close to meriting a comparison with Nabokov's prose. And Celeste Price makes Humbert Humbert look like a fine gentleman deserving of a special award for decency instead of jail time.
She is neither deranged nor merely blessed with an uncommon sexual preference but a calculative, crafty and manipulative 'bitch' (I'm putting aside my obsession with being feministically correct for a while). She has achieved a state of harmony with her aberrations, doesn't suffer from feelings of contrition in any form and relentlessly pursues what she seeks. Not even a highly public trial and an exposure to the world as a sexual deviant of the most abominable type, cures her of her perversions. The narrative also tells us in a rather unsubtle manner, that given an opportunity she would not have hesitated to kill her victims in order to protect her secret.
She is undoubtedly one of the most well-sketched female antagonists in contemporary fiction.
But aside from the creation of this marvellously despicable character I don't spot any other achievement in Nutting's novel.
I was often disturbed by the detailing of various sexual acts between Celeste and Jack/Boyd, the unsuspecting victims, and found a few nagging questions bobbing up to the surface of my consciousness as I kept plowing along - "Um is this erotica masquerading as literary fiction?"
Does Nutting seek to titillate? Does she wish to indict the American judicial system for letting off Celeste easily just because her victims found her sexually attractive enough to want to sleep with her? Does she want to make the world more aware of such perverts lurking just around the corner and hence be more vigilant and keep our children safe? Does she want us to empathize with Celeste Price and see her as a personification of the uglier facets of our existence? Does she question our notions of morality?
I did not get any definitive answers to these questions. I am effectively stumped as to what the purpose of writing this book could have been and hence I am being generous by giving this 3 stars. I was glad when I reached the end and unable to decide whether I just wasted a few precious hours of my spare time or not.
P.S.:- People looking for better books in a similar vein, please do read [b:What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal |13258|What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal |Zoë Heller|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1317792264s/13258.jpg|18650]. I simply cannot recommend it highly enough. *I received an advance reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*