Brilliant Books, touted as “your long distance local bookstore,” is basically the same as Just the Right Book! You fill out a form, a real-life person picks out a book, and then they send it to you. I paid $185.00 for one yer of paperback books, though there are other options.
This one was a little different because they sent me some questions via snail mail (how exciting!) and then had me return said questions via snail mail (with a postage paid envelope) so getting started took a little longer than the others. However, once the bookseller got my card back I got a lovely email that let me know that if anything wasn’t to my liking that I could send it back.
And then I got my first book, The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien.
You guys. This book is intense, and not in a “sweep you in” kind of way, but as in graphic descriptions of some of the most invasive and brutal and disgusting violence you can commit against a woman. GRAPHIC. I MEAN IT.
It’s not constant (in fact there are only a few pages in total that made me think I might throw up) but they come up so suddenly and even when you realize what’s about to happen you just assume it’ll be alluded to or glossed over and then NOPE, HERE WE GO, HOLD ON.
The story is that of an Irish woman who wants to have a baby but can’t with her husband. At first, it’s a gentle, sweet story with some humor and a meandering pace. Then the woman in question meets a new stranger, a poet who goes by the name of Vlad, and though she didn’t exactly fall in love with him, she does decide to get him to impregnate her.
Shortly after she discovers she’s pregnant, something is discovered about Vlad: It turns out he’s wanted for war crimes in Sarajevo. Then the story gets dark and awful and also uplifting but then dark again.
It’s hard, considering the subject matter, to say, “Man, I loved this book!” because I can’t imagine reading this book and feeling joyful or happy about it. That said, this book was extremely successful. It rocked me. It made me think about things in a different way. It was affecting. It will stay with me. I would just be very careful if you’re planning to pick this up because there are parts that are as rough (if not rougher) than anything I’ve ever read.
Recommended for: People who can handle extremely graphic descriptions of violence; people who want to confront some awful things
Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? Yes
Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: N / N / Y / Y