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Valentine (Hardback)

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With the haunting emotional power of American Dirt and the atmospheric suspense of Where the Crawdads Sing: a compulsive debut novel that explores the aftershock of a brutal crime on the women of a small Texas oil town.

'The very definition of a stunning debut' Ann Patchett

'Amazing ... like a grimmer, newer version of To Kill A Mockingbird ... It sounds bleak, and it is, but there is beauty, too; in the landscape, in the spirit of some of the people and most of all in Wetmore's wonderful writing' Wendy Holden, Daily Mail

Mercy is hard in a place like this. I wished him dead before I ever saw his face...

Mary Rose Whitehead isn't looking for trouble - but when it shows up at her front door, she finds she can't turn away.

Corinne Shepherd, newly widowed, wants nothing more than to mind her own business, and for everyone else to mind theirs. But when the town she has spent years rebelling against closes ranks she realises she is going to have to take a side.

Debra Ann is motherless and lonely and in need of a friend. But in a place like Odessa, Texas, choosing who to trust can be a dangerous game.

Gloria Ramirez, fourteen years old and out of her depth, survives the brutality of one man only to face the indifference and prejudices of many.

When justice is as slippery as oil, and kindness becomes a hazardous act, sometimes courage is all we have to keep us alive.

Fiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication Date: 11/06/2020 ISBN-13: 9780008331924  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Elizabeth Wetmore is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in Epoch, Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, Baltimore Review, Crab Orchard Review, Iowa Review, and other literary journals. She is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, as well as a grant from the Barbara Deming Foundation. She was also a Rona Jaffe Scholar in Fiction at Bread Loaf and a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony, and one of six Writers in Residence at Hedgebrook. A native of West Texas, she lives and works in Chicago.

More books by Elizabeth Wetmore

Customer Reviews

I really liked this book – it was not particularly pleasant reading. Afterall, no book that starts with the traumatic aftermath of a violent rape, can ever be considered a pleasant read. Thankfully, the actual rape was not described – only the aftermath. But the characters are compelling, and their stories of how each person tries to move on from that fateful night – from the rape and from other adverse changes in their lives. The book is told mainly in the third person, and from a variety of points of view. The only exception is the chapters narrated by Mary Rose – the lady who comes to the aid of the young raped girl, Glory. The subjects of each chapter are the females, of all ages, who inhabit the godforsaken Texas shale oil town. The date 1976. I really hope attitudes and times have changed drastically since then. If not, then my only advice to any female considering going there, is DON’T. And to any female unfortunate enough to be there, GET OUT. NOW!!! The town is a man’s world. Women are there to smile, do what their menfolk say, produce babies, and never rock the boat. A few escape, some try to improve their lot within the tight constraints, most get ground down. The men of the town die in accidents at work, or when drunk. “And the women, how do we lose them? Usually, it’s when one of the men kills them” The men are not all bad (except Dale Strickland, who is downright evil). It just never occurs to them, that the women of the town might need more, that they may want in order to live rather than just exist for the benefit of the men. Only Corrine’s husband, Potter, ever thought to ask. Likewise, the women are not all sympathetic. But it is clear what has made them into the people that they are. Some, like Debra Ann, start out annoying, and then grow on you. My favourite character was Corrine – the only woman in the book who managed to complete her education. I was reading about her mourning the recent death of Potter, who had terminal cancer – on the day that I heard that my own husband’s chemotherapy had failed. And I wondered if that would be me in a few months’ time. Corrine starts the book desolate, annoyed by everything and everyone, but slowly finds a reason to go on living. Apart from the rampant misogyny, the town is also cursed with unrelenting racism. That the racism only seems directed at Mexicans, is probably because other minorities are lucky enough to not have to go anywhere near the town, so are outside the locals’ attention and vitriol. A young girl is viciously raped and many of the townsfolk see the rapist as the victim – some no-account girl of questionable morals (i.e. Mexican) trying to destroy the reputation of this fine upstanding (i.e. white) boy. “Fourteen years old. As if there might have been some moral ambiguity, Corrine thinks bitterly, if Gloria Ramírez had been sixteen, or white” I do like that while the book depicts Glory as being wilful, an occasional shoplifter and not listening to her mother, it does not discuss any previous sexual activity (or its absence). Clearly, she got willingly into Strickland’s truck, but there is no mention of consent to sex with him. Consent is in any case immaterial, since a) she is well under age b) she made it abundantly clear that she wished the sex to stop and c) no-one consents to such grievous bodily harm as a ruptured spleen. I finished this book nearly a month ago, but have not been in the right frame of mind to review it until now. Luckily, it is the type of book whose tale and characters remain with you long after the book is read. As I checked back on some of the notes I had made, I found myself sucked in again and rereading whole chapters of the book – just as good on the second reading as on the first. Although the book has received mixed reviews, I personally highly recommend this book. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

- 29/06/2020
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