Penny-dreadful love story at its worst

2010-05-19 00:00

IN A Naked Place tells the story of Lily Lidbury, a nurse turned teacher, whose only daughter is savaged to death by a vicious dog, shortly after her husband runs off with her mother’s best friend. Yep, her mother’s best friend.

Lily sublimates her pent-up mothering urges by taking a post as headmistress of Belgrave Hall, an elite British school for girls. During her holidays, she goes to KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to work as a nurse at Jabulani­ Children’s Home.

In her new life, she tells no one but her closest friend about her daughter’s existence or subsequent horrific death. But then a new pupil, Savanah Anderson, arrives at Belgrave Hall.

Savanah is the image of her beloved child and so begins Lily’s fixation with the new child and ultimately her father­ Benton, with whom she begins a very passionate affair, although she knows this could derail the new life she has carefully built for herself.

By the way, fellow prudes will be pleased that the sex scenes are not at all explicit, but be warned: the cheesiness of what there is in terms of romance may well offend.

Fans of Eskapa may be used to her style, but it sure took me by surprise. I have not read a penny-dreadful love story for decades now, but I should imagine publishers of those would be eager to sign this book.

Eskapa reinforces this equation: forceful, alpha male + submissive woman = perfect love. She goes as far as to quote Benton as saying that he resents his lawyer wife Jodi because she had achieved as much, if not more than him in the corporate world.

“Lily found his banking world fascinating … it didn’t come naturally to her, as it did to Jodi, to want to be his equal, if not superior to him. Instead, Lily looked up to him, and made it clear that she respected his work in a way Jodi never had.”

Excuse me while I throw up. Not one that I would recommend.

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