Lockdown...day 896, or so it feels. I have read some wonderful books over the last 4 weeks and I am finally going to start telling you about them! This first one is sadly not published until September, so you will have a bit of a wait but it will certainly be worth it.
The Harpy by Megan Hunter
Publication Date: September 17th 2020
Published By: Picador
This book - what can I say - I truly loved it.
Megan Hunter has such a lyrical way with her prose that as soon as I start one of her novels I am engrossed to the last word. Told in fragments, this novel is an incredible evocation of a contemporary marriage, family and infidelity. However, this story is not as simple as all that. Woven throughout is the protagonist's fascination with the Harpy, a mythical being with the head of a woman and the body of a bird. The story of the Harpy has been told many times but as we read Hunter's novel we witness the metamorphosis of our wronged woman as she changes and takes on the features and persona of the object of her fascination.
There is the overarching question in this narrative of who really has the power when a partner cheats; the cheater or the cheated? Lucy is going about her everyday life when she is called by a stranger and what he tells her changes her view of her marriage but mostly her understanding of herself. Hunter explores an interesting and original dynamic here; one where the married couple, Lucy and Jake, make a pact: Lucy agrees to hurt her husband three times to get even for his transgressions. Jake is not to know when these hurts are going to happen and the reader is taken through each stage with Lucy as she tries to come to terms with her own hurt and power she has taken.
"Nobody thinks they will become that woman until it happens. They walk down the street, knowing it will never be them.
They have no idea how it is: like the turning of a foot on a crack in the pavement, the slip of an ankle from the kerb, a falling, a single instant, the briefest action, changing it all."
And so, everything does change. Lucy's 'transformation' happens like a fever dream and Hunter takes the reader through the layers of pain and disappointment that happens when your trust is belittled and humiliation sets in. Lucy takes back the power and the Harpy takes back Lucy.
A stunning read. I cannot wait for more.
This novel was kindly gifted to me by Picador for an honest review.
Other novels by Megan Hunter:
The End we Start From published by Picador