Publication date July 2020/ Publisher Picador
Lucy and Jake live in a house by a field where the sun burns like a ball of fire. Lucy has set her career aside in order to devote her life to the children, to their finely tuned routine, and to the house itself, which comforts her like an old, sly friend. But then a man calls one afternoon with a shattering message: his wife has been having an affair with Lucy’s husband, Jake. The revelation marks a turning point: Lucy and Jake decide to stay together, but make a special arrangement designed to even the score and save their marriage–she will hurt him three times.
As the couple submit to a delicate game of crime and punishment, Lucy herself begins to change, surrendering to a transformation of both mind and body from which there is no return.
Lucy has been obsessed with harpies since a childhood book first introduced her to the idea. The novel tells us the story from her first person perspective; her husband has cheated and to even the score they agree she can hurt him three times.
I am very much of the opinion that once you’ve cheated the relationship is finished. Not that old ‘once a cheater always a cheater’ though, I do believe leopards change their spots for the right person. So to me right from the start I have zero respect for Lucy for not booting that jackass husband out the door… but then that would be a short and pointless story.
The writing gives a claustrophobic, sinister atmosphere to the book, and Lucy seems to thrive, if not enjoy that type of environment. I imagined the house to be small and dingy, like a place with the curtains permanently closed.
There’s something desperate and broken in Lucy and their agreement has given her a sick kind of power over her husband.
The pace ramps up as we follow Lucy’s swift descent. I have to say I’m glad the book was a short one because despite the beautiful prose this was just not for me. Not at all.