My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

3 Stars from me

Yes, 3, unpopular opinion I know. I do feel conflicted over this as it is not owing to the quality of the writing which, for the record, is excellent.

For me, My Dark Vanessa should have ended at about the 55% mark. Even up to this point I found the book a little laborious but I distinctly recall looking up to see how much of the book was left as I couldn’t believe it hadn’t ended, and it then being 58%. I truly felt the book had reached it’s natural conclusion. (I did go on to finish the book but felt it really dragged after that point.)

The subject matter isn’t great but that’s not to say it wasn’t a good story and an important story. This level of grooming and abuse goes on far too frequently and it is important that attention is drawn to the issue so that people can stop turning a blind eye out of misplaced politeness. However, having said that the books goes to great lengths to stress that both Stane and Vanessa see it more as a love story which, for me, muddies the waters massively on this being a positive message.

I would very much read something else by the same author as the depth and quality of the writing really was great, the characters were all credible and scenes and places were are well described.

Synopsis:

An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher

ALL HE DID WAS FALL IN LOVE WITH ME AND THE WORLD TURNED HIM INTO A MONSTER

Vanessa Wye was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, and as riveting as it is disturbing, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age is grappling with.

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