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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 7 October 2013
Some of the sentences in this book pop and snap with incredible authority and beauty. OK, she is no Nabokov but that is an utterly irrelevant criticism. Here are some of my favourite moments:

[On overweight joggers:] "Their silhouettes eclipsed my binocular view and I looked up to watch them saunter off, elbows out, rowing through the air like impotent wings. Were there souls left inside these women? It seemed doubtful. The soul had always struck me as being a tricky thing to keep with the body: an easily bored aristocrat with the means to leave whenever it wished."

"His pain seemed like such an internal thing, no different from excrement-- something to be dealt with in private."

As a black comedy this book absolutely succeeds. Some people have criticised it for being a one character study, but I believe this is exactly what Nutting set out to do. Celeste Price is lost in her own solipsistic, desperate insistence that the only thing she has left in her life are pubescent boys. Every other character is flat precisely because this is how she sees them. She dominates the text because she dominates her own mind.

That is not to say she is heroic, but the fun of this book comes from Nutting's dance between our sympathy for the narrator and the clear, hard fact of her psychopathy.

It's a beautifully written book, structurally works (I particularly enjoyed the courtroom climax at the end, and I usually hate being lead in such an obvious way, but Nutting has such wit that you hardly care) and is a memorable, important contemporary feminist text. It reminds me in a way of Charlotte Roche's Wetlands, not in content but in determination and sassy force. In Nutting's words:

"It's not to say anyone should be comfortable with my book, but I think that's why the shock at [the book] is so great, because female sexual agency in general is not fully accepted."

In summary, Tampa made me happy because it was beautiful, and so nice to see a contemporary novelist playing with the same old tools and making something gorgeous out of it.
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on 4 September 2013
An enthralling book. Despite a lack of character development in some areas and a mildly disjointed plot, the mind of Celeste is an utterly fascinating and unsettling thing to experience. This is a gripping account of a remorseless, psychopathic paedophile - and there is no room for moral values. A disturbing experience, but an exceptional character study (if you can stomach the graphic scenes!)

Handling subject matter such as this is always going to divide opinions. Read it even if the topic makes you cringe and you may be surprised! Make up your own opinion :)
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on 9 November 2013
dissapointed after all the hype on thsi book. yes it keeps your attention but so much of it is unrealistic. would not reccomend if you would like a book with substance
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on 4 July 2015
This probably isn't as shocking or as controversial as it may think it is but it also a lot better written than the theme may suggest. Nutting captures the mind and thoughts of our twisted female protagonist with pin sharp accuracy and eloquence and the clarity of her writing has this intriguing story rattling along at a fairly breathless and exhilarating pace. It's also hilarious in many parts. All told it puts an interesting twist on the conventional ideas of laws, morals and ideas and raises some difficult questions that don't always seem to have nice clean answers.
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on 30 October 2013
This book is extremely interesting, looking into the mind of a sociopath and her twisted way of seeing things gives you an insight into her world and the way it works. So though s controversial topic it is a brave and compelling book.

The narrative is cleverly written, although it does have a tendency to verge on pornographic, it still manages to come across without too much vulgarity.

Would definitely recommend to people interested in the way different minds work and like to understand how different people think. Good book I'm glad I read.
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on 24 June 2014
I couldn't disagree more with the review that said there is no substance to this book and that it was unrealistic. Has that reviewer not come across the Mary Kay Letournea case in the States? Or any number of cases involving a female teacher with her male students? I can't see what is unrealistic about Nutting's novel at all. This is a brilliant book, wonderfully written with a suspenseful plot, I felt genuinely bereft when I finished it. I really look forward to her next novel and will content myself with her edition of short stories in the meanwhile.
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This book should come with a health warning as I can imagine plenty of readers will hate it, will find it sick, perverse and deviant - the narrator undoubtedly is all these things, but the book is a brave and controversial exploration of a female sexual predator and psychopath.

This is an uncompromising portrait of a young female school-teacher, who only finds pre-adolescent schoolboys sexually attractive. Told in Celeste's own voice, this opens with her excitement the night before she starts at a new school, and follows her through a school year as she has an affair with a 14-year old boy...

What makes this book exceptional and which stops it becoming exploitative, even pornographic, is the author's control over the voice and character of Celeste - 24, beautiful, monstrous, obsessive, intelligent, utterly shameless, possibly homicidal, certainly pathological.

And yet, for all her perversity, Celeste has a sharp and barbed wit: in order to keep her husband Ford under control and to avoid having to sleep with him: "I kept a series of pre-crushed Ambien pills inside emptied tea-bags at the back of the pantry where he'd never look. Ford loathed tea; it just wasn't American". And, later, after she manipulates Janet, a terrible teacher, into being on her side: "Janet was far more gregarious this fall; her spring evaluations had risen from `unsatisfactory' up to `below average' and she felt her job was safe again".

This doesn't hold back in sexual terms and Celeste shares her fantasies, solo antics and affair with 14-year old Jack in graphic detail - and it would be coy of the book to avoid the reality of who, and what, Celeste is. Her intelligence and wit make the book readable and stop it descending into something unthinking and purely sensationalist.

This certainly gestures back to Lolita but also other books narrated by a pathological and subversive character. So this is a brave, uncompromising and very provocative debut from Nutting who makes us, as readers, horribly complicit with Celeste.

So of course this is a disturbing book - it's meant to be and has to be given the subject matter - but it's also an intelligent one which I literally couldn't stop reading. We do almost want to read it with our eyes averted and with a cushion handy to hide behind as we just know that this cannot have anything but an unsettling ending.

This is thoughtful literature designed to challenge and confront - just be aware of what you're letting yourself in for when you start reading this book.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher).
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on 17 October 2014
A very thought provoking book. I had read about it and wanted to challenge myself and my opinions on how I would feel about a female sexual deviant. This book is shocking & graphic, the main character a vile being and someone as a woman I found really difficult to relate to. She completely lacked empathy and was predatory which is at odds with the women I surround myself with. Is this character realistic? Who knows. I'm just glad that she's not in my life. I didn't love this book but I'm glad I've read it just because it's a very interesting concept.
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on 4 October 2013
I felt this book wasn't seeking to shock, or be salacious at all, but was attempting to put the reader into the mind of Celeste and demonstrate how she rationalised her own behaviour to herself, to allow her to take the actions she does. Interesting and thought provoking. If you are the sort of person who is interested in the world and the way people behave upon it, definitely worth a read. If you suffer more readily from involuntary bouts of narrow minded righteous indignation, then perhaps you should stick to something a little more mainstream.
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on 26 February 2014
Seriously disturbing but littered with dark humour and characters that (whilst not likeable) are extremely interesting.

Read it all in one day...
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