From the author of the best-selling novel, Film Society, Natha is a wife and mother in her mid-thirties living in the town of Stirling, Ontario. She makes her living as a prostitute, a lifestyle that is not only tolerated but encouraged by her semiemployed husband. A series of chance encounters leads her back to her very first client, the town's elderly bookstore owner. Now dying of cancer, the man offers to pay her thousands of dollars to, among other things, "tell him about love." The proposition forces Natha to re-evaluate the choices she has made, why she made them, and how much control she truly has over her own life.
I very much enjoyed this novel, particularly the frank depictions of sex; and the strong sense of place, Mitchell uses actual Stirling, Ontario street names so I was able to follow Natha as she walked through town and shopped at Foodland. The theme is the impact of sexual abuse. Natha looks like she’s coping, but has deeply disassociated from her feelings. The limited third-person POV was very effective at keeping the focus on Natha, but the momentum slowed in the middle to show us how stuck she is. The writing is lovely.
A beautifully crafted book, a bit rushed at the end. I'm glad I read it, though I doubt I'll read it again. The writing is intended to be detached and full of broken promises, which is not a style I generally enjoy, but it made for a nice one-time read only (no love affair with it). Poor Sylvia Plath.
Our protagonist Natha is intensely observant about others, but is empty and cold inside; even her name is not her own. She is desolate and desperate to be in control of her own life. Although married, and in close contact with her mother, the only love she knows is of her six year old daughter Celia, who she mustn't smother. Natha is damaged, independent, devoid of empathy, and strong. Will she find herself?