She knows what happened, but why it happened and what it meant, she doesn’t know. There was so much of her life she doesn’t not understand.
Gabriel Tallent, My Absolute Darling
I’m part of a book club that seems to routinely read books about women who are in vulnerable and abusive situations, sometimes overcoming and sometimes not. Sometimes the books are so violently disturbing I don’t even bother finishing them. Watching the news is disturbing enough. No need for my pleasure reading to do the same.
My Absolute Darling is an exception. It’s horrible and violent. Young Turtle lives a life of fear, abuse and violence at the hands of her father Martin. From the first chapter, I knew that all is not nor likely ever will be well for this daughter and her deranged father, but it was impossible to put Gabriel Tallent’s book down.
His writing is evocative and rich. His storytelling is vivid, transporting. Every character, moment, road, beach, beating, sunrise, beating, and rape shine with gruesome accuracy or light humor or outrageous beauty. His words bare the souls of Martin and Turtle, so much so that I often felt as if I was in the room watching – or worse, that I was inside their heads, as victim and perpetrator.
As Turtle struggles with her realization that the father she loves is the man that will kill her, she knows she must escape. She finally does. I’m not sure if that escape freed her.
“She knows what happened, but why it happened and what it meant, she doesn’t know. There was so much of her life she doesn’t not understand.”
Some people can tell a story; Gabriel Tallent used his words to trap you in his story. I, like Turtle, was trapped in Martin’s cabin unable to escape until the very last page.