Obsessive desire simmers beneath the surface of a dark debut in which two women hide out on a boat in New Zealand
An interviewer once complained to the novelist Claire Messud that one of her characters – the titular woman in The Woman Upstairs – was too “unbearably grim” to be likable, a problem that seems to afflict the women of literature far more than their male counterparts. “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you?” the interviewer prodded. “For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that?” Messud responded. “Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert?…If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. The relevant question isn’t ‘is this a potential friend for me?’ but ‘is this character alive?’”
Cynthia, the simpering, scheming, covetous emotional sinkhole of New Zealander Annaleese Jochems’s assured debut novel, Baby, is alive and squirming; a memorable addition to the growing coterie of unapologetic antiheroines (dis)gracing the pages of contemporary fiction.
Baby by Annaleese Jochems review – a cabin-fever dream