This is a bleak, beautiful and original book. It's the story of what happens when a privileged teenage girl turns away from playing the cello and is captivated by a wholly different, more compelling instrument and sometimes the men attached to it. It's more shocking than Fifty Shades Of Grey because I can imagine it happening for real, just up the road from me. It contains the making of what most people would consider to be breath takingly stupid decisions. It's not the kind of book that fits neatly into your head. Sometimes you feel that the main character Emily has real agency and sometimes you feel she has none, she's just coasting along letting circumstances direct her. She has an idiosyncratic way - her Illustration - to make sense of and survive the abuse she receives from the men in her life. Her Illustration both comforts her and causes her potential trouble. She is reluctant to show it off and go swimming, to take part in normal activities. Her body is a prison and a playground, for both her and other characters. There are genuinely unexpected plot twists. It's an intelligent book, be prepared to google the occasional title heading and Latin phrase. It has great dialogue, although blush inducing at times. I think it contains more uses of the word c*ck than the average Razzle letters page. There are also more trainers, track suits and big gold earrings than an episode of Jeremy Kyle. If you liked The Wire and are happy to read colourful descriptions of sexual activity you'll enjoy this. This is not suitable for lending to your Mum.
The Illustrated Woman has a unique plot that will capture your attention, hold it, make you angry, make you cry, make you desperate and it will make you fall in love. It will remove you from your present world and transport you into the life of a single mother who turned her back on the world her parents desired her to have and created her own.
This book is not for the shy or timid. It is graphic and realistic. It is emotionally open and evasive. It is good and evil. It is stimulating and abusive. It is life and broken dreams. It is enthralling and deceiving. It is truth and lies. It is honor and immoral. It is beauty and ignorance. It is love and selfishness. It is desire and hatred. It is commitment and it is fear. It is enlightenment and it is disillusionments. It is about second or even third chances and it is unforgivable. It is choices and it is consequences. It is maturity at its worst and it is immaturity at its best. It is a book that will make you think...about circumstances, choices and consequences.
Emily learns early on that choices are her choices to make, not her mom and nor her dad's, thus leading her astray from the life her parents were molding her into. Acceptance...of who she is, what she wanted, who she wanted was denied creating a void in her that was filled with pain due to the rejection of a stoutly proud man...her father.
Tyrone: Attractive. Lazy. User. Her obsession. Her destruction. Her love. Her destruction. Her everything. Her on again, off again.
Penny: Obedient. Cooperative. Happy. Her life. Her daughter. Her one constant.
The Clients: Pornographic. Solicitation. Lust. Her way of paying for her Illustration.
Enter Alan: Quiet. Shy. Reserved. Suffering. Attentive. Listener. Consistent. Eager. Accepting. In love with Emily. Her, not quite sure what.
The Illustration: Her future. Her history. Her dreams. Her failures. Her life in ink. One half, pure; One half, not so much. The Choice: Tyrone, Alan. Alan, Tyrone. Her choice. Their choice.
The Illustrated Woman is to be read as entertainment only and should only be read by adults of maturity. The Illustrated Woman has extensive usage of curse words, references to drug usage, explicit sexual relations incorporating power exchange, sexually abusive scenes, BDSM references and intense anger scenes.
This book is a work of vivid contemporary fiction. It's a fascinating if disquieting read, well crafted and well written. Against the background of a modern day Nottinghamshire town, a multi-racial, socially diverse melting pot of energy, Emily recounts her story in stark detail. The readers senses are battered, reasoning questioned as the Illustrated Woman talks her way to the final part of her graphical history. This is a book about love and lust but for me, it's more about self worth and how each adult character defines that in their own lives. It's thought provoking and shocking but too sad for me to really enjoy, if I'm honest, but it's often good to be shaken up a little by the gritty realities of life. If you're up for an interesting, well written and thought provoking story, then the Illustrated Woman is a great choice of read.