Violence and sexual rapacity

2008-10-02 08:05

Rosamund Handler is - or so she would have us believe - a passionate crusader for women's rights and against the sex industry, paedophilia and drugs.

The novel charts the childhood and adolescence of Jody, daughter of Katy, a Cape Town prostitute, a bright child early affected by violence when a demented client of her mother throws her out of a fifth floor window. Katy, terrified, runs away, but not before having ascertained that her kindly sister, Beth, is to foster and care for the badly-injured little girl. This fails because of the jealousy, meanness and sexual rapacity of Jody's uncle and two boy cousins. Her next foster placing, with a musty, chilly pair of lesbians, is equally unsuccessful, and Jody finds herself on the street, where an even more violent episode, a ghastly double rape, takes place.

But help is at hand in the form of Maggie, another “working girl” whose descent into prostitution from a toffee-nosed Cape Town suburb resulted from horrible girlhood experiences in the stables with the vicious owner of a posh riding school. Meanwhile Katy falls in with really rotten company, meeting an attractive African American who turns out to be the nastiest kind of pimp, and becoming a pitiful, drug-soaked sex slave in the U.S.

Can Maggie and Katy break free of their backgrounds? Can Jody become a normal teenager? Common sense says a resounding “no” to both. But Handler, short on common sense and long on fairy-tale transformation, has Katy, suddenly highly intelligent and well read, find the resources to escape her captor and return to the daughter she abandoned. Maggie, really an intellectual giant, starts writing sensitive and saleable poetry. Jody does brilliantly at school and the man who threw her out of the window repents and foots all her bills.

This starry-eyed stuff is at odds with much of the rest of the novel, where wodges of polemic alternate with lurid accounts of cruel and perverse sexual practices, written with a relish that is, I think, almost more repellent than the acts themselves.

With ruthless editing, revision and an injection of reality, this could have been a good novel. In its present form, though it's readable if you suspend disbelief, it's trash.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.