Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Review: "Sweet Lamb of Heaven" by Lydia Millet

Sweet Lamb of Heaven, the new novel by Lydia Millet, hold within it a very weird and unexpected story of paranoia, friendship and the places we go when the world gets to dangerous and scary, elements I did not expect from reading the synopsis on the front flap of the hardcover edition. What presents itself as a rather straightforward thriller of a lover gone mad and the woman hiding from him turns into something deeply philosophical and almost magical, if my intuitions about what was actually going on are true. Most thrillers of this nature are not as vague or dreamlike as this book, a quality that both keeps a lot of this book’s intent at arm’s length, but also creates a world that is intoxicating, a narrator who is fascinating and shows the complexity of the book’s plot and narrative. At the start of the book Anna and her daughter Lena are on the de-facto run from Ned, Anna’s husband and Lena’s father. They are holed up in a motel in Maine called The Wind and Pines during its off-season, which is strange since the hotel seems full. They are hiding from Ned, an uncaring sociopath who is charming and using that charm to run for office, the reason he wants Anna and Lena by his side. Not a lot happens until the rather chaotic ending. Instead, the bulk of the book introduces us to people who may or may not be figments of Anna’s depressive, crumbling psyche, such as Don, the hotel owner, Kay, a former doctoral student, two girls named Linda and Will, who Anna eventually falls in love with. I was close to finding out what was at the heart of this book, but even though I was unsuccessful, I found the experience enriching and rewarding. 
Rating: 4/5

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