Novel of the week: Animal by Lisa Taddeo
Taddeo’s debut novel is a dark, carnal tale, ‘drenched in sex and blood’
Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women – an “intimate investigation” of female sexuality in America – was the “biggest publishing sensation of 2019”, said Madeleine Feeny in the London Evening Standard. As a result, “all eyes are trained” on Taddeo’s debut novel, Animal. And it proves to be a dark, carnal tale, “drenched in sex and blood”.
It begins with Joan, the beautiful but damaged narrator, driving cross-country to Los Angeles and renting a ramshackle three-storey house up Topanga Canyon. Sex, rape and murder ensue: “men hunt women, women hunt men, and damaged women hunt one another”.
Taddeo’s writing can be “exceptionally good”, said Sandra Newman in The Guardian. But the “careening outlandishness” of the plot seems at odds with the book’s “serious content”: much of the incident is “gratuitously bizarre and seedy”.
It rather grew on me, said Melissa Katsoulis in The Times. Taddeo is attempting something radical, which is “flipping American Psycho for the #MeToo generation”. She hasn’t quite found her fictional stride, but she has the “guts and big ideas to become something great”.
Bloomsbury £16.99; The Week Bookshop £13.99
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