Helen and Wilson have been forcibly separated in the wake of The Admirer‘s thrilling conclusion. As Wilson suffers from a disorder with no cure, Helen finds herself increasingly lost and uncomfortable, not knowing why Wilson is not returning to her college.
This novel is just as entrancing as the first novel. It is written more from Wilson’s perspective which is a refreshing change after Helen’s insecure narration in the first novel. At the same time, it is obvious that Wilson suffers from the same insecurities. I felt frustrated that they weren’t communicating well, because surely they should have gotten over it in the first novel? But that is what makes this novel more life-like and less like a fiction.
That being said, the things that go wrong that are really random things that get wrong. How likely is it that these things would happen in real life? The whole hierarchy in Wilson’s family seems off, but then again, these atrocities to occur in modern life, and what better way to expose it than in a novel? Her family is seriously interbred and messy, made more so by the questionable sexualities of its members. I wonder how much of this actually goes on…
I had such differing levels of disgust and horror and discomfort all about one person, but I didn’t know that they were someone else until it was too late! I didn’t feel tricked, instead I felt like I’d had an actual expose go on, just like Wilson feels. It’s a clever technique that Karelia uses with expertise in both of her ‘Wilson and Helen’ novels.
I couldn’t make the final connection for what happened to the girls. They’re basically surrounded by myth the whole time. They’re completely legendary, and remain that way. I’d love to hear more from them. I want to know whether they are both happy, whether they decide to study more, and what the collector wanted from them (if it wasn’t sex or religious purposes).
Once again I was left feeling like I’d been walking along hot coals and found myself loving them so much that it felt more painful when it ended. I was pushed along by how things were interconnected and messy and yet not obvious all at the same time. Love, love, loved this novel. Not only did I connect with the characters, the plot didn’t miss a beat and kept moving forward with no inconsistencies.
When I interviewed Karelia, she mentioned that many people seem uncomfortable with the sex scenes in her novels. I think that the majority of them are tastefully done, and actually offer insight into the characters. That is particularly the case in this novel. It’s certainly not a gratuitous pledge to her readers.
I bought this novel for myself after reading Karelia’s other novels, The Admirer, Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before and Something True. Let that be a mark to you that I now proudly own all these novels after buying them with my own cash, and would confidently promote them to everyone.