Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall
The Woman Before Me is about Rose, who to be honest, is an unlikeable protagonist. She was accused of killing baby Joel, her friend Emma's son after her own son died. Now, she's served half of her sentence and they're considering letting her out for parole - this is where Cate, her parole officer, comes in. The book is essentially about Rose trying to get parole, and Cate trying to find out what happened.
What was interesting about this book was the juxtaposition of first person narration (in the form of Rose's diaries) and third person narration (Cate's section). The first person narration created intimacy, and although Rose was creepy at times, it did serve to humanise her. Her life is so hard that her state-of-mind is understandable (although still unacceptable). The third person narration feels more objective, like Cate is supposed to be.
To be honest, none of the characters in this book were likable. Not even Cate, who has her own subplot of being trapped in a sexist world. If it weren't for the fact that the story was so well-written that I wanted to find out what happened, I might have put the book down.
A few issues were raised in the book - such as crime and punishment, and the prison system, and sexism. What I found interesting were the dysfunctional relationships in the book. Rose loves Jason, Jason only loves his son and Emma, his ex-wife, Emma supposedly loves her husband, but is sleeping with Jason, these are messed up people. It's this web of tangled relationships that drive the book forward.
For me, the strength of the book was in its writing style. The plot was interesting, but the characters weren't likable. It's a bleak book, but it does present a few interesting issues for the reader to consider.
Disclaimer: This book was provided free of charge via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.