Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Odyssey [review]

The Odyssey by Lara Williams
Published by Zando on April 21, 2022
my rating: 4 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.26 (as of 2022-08-18)
Spoiler-free review

disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. Quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and may differ from the final publication.

I was already feeling kind of slumpy when I picked this up and when I saw the average Goodreads rating (an abysmal 3.26), I was nervous. I thought this would edge me further into my reading slump and that I’d have another DNF on my hands. Instead, I found myself pulled straight in to Ingrid’s story. A crewmember on an immense cruise ship, Ingrid is a strange person having strange experiences. It’s hard to say more without getting into spoilers, but I found this to be a delightfully messy and confusing book. There both is and isn’t much in the way of plot and the characters themselves are odd and difficult to connect with. I can see why this isn’t for everyone, but I felt like Lara Williams did a great job here and I’m glad I finally got around to picking this up.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Supper Club [review]

Supper Club by Lara Williams
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on July 4, 2019
my rating: ★★★★
Goodreads avg:
3.58 (as of 2020-07-01)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads IndieBound | Author Website

Roberta spends her life trying not to take up space. At almost thirty, she is adrift and alienated from life. Stuck in a mindless job and reluctant to pursue her passion for food, she suppresses her appetite and recedes to the corners of rooms. But when she meets Stevie, a spirited and effervescent artist, their intense friendship sparks a change in Roberta, a shift in her desire for more.

Together, they invent the Supper Club, a transgressive and joyous collective of women who gather to celebrate, rather than admonish, their hungers. They gather after dark and feast until they are sick; they break into private buildings and leave carnage in their wake; they embrace their changing bodies; they stop apologizing. For these women, each extraordinary yet unfulfilled, the club is a way to explore, discover, and push the boundaries of the space they take up in the world.

Yet as the club expands, growing both in size and rebellion, Roberta is forced to reconcile herself to the desire and vulnerabilities of the body–and the past she has worked so hard to repress. Devastatingly perceptive and savagely funny, Supper Club is an essential coming-of-age story for our times.

Watching programs on cannibalism, reading horror stories about lovers devoured, reports of people searching the Internet for someone to eat them, I’d think: I get it. My whole life was the push/pull of appetite: wanting to consume but also to be consumed.

This is one of those books that strikes me as being similar to The Pisces in that it will probably be very divisive. The characters are messy and not necessarily enjoyable to read. But I’ve grown to love reading about messy women and Supper Club was no exception. I found Lara Williams’ writing style enthralling. She writes quite simply, but I felt a great depth of emotion while reading this. She was able to describe the most inane of interactions in a way that made me incredibly anxious. This novel also contains far more character examination than plot; Roberta is really trying to figure out who she is and how to make herself happy.

There is a lot to be said in this book about trauma as well as various forms of abuse or toxicity. The majority of Roberta’s relationships contain one or both of these, but it’s difficult for her to see that just as it’s difficult for many survivors of abuse. I did struggle with trying to figure out whether or not Roberta is queer, as one of her toxic ‘relationships’ is with a queer woman, but by the end I was pretty convinced she was straight and that this was just a seriously codependent friendship. There’s also a trans woman in this book who is misgendered when the narrator recounts her childhood and her discovery of the lgbtq community, as a heads up to any trans folks who may read this.

Overall, I found this was very much a worthwhile experience for me. I really enjoyed Supper Club and appreciate how Williams was able to write such a chaotic and messy book while still holding my attention fully. I do think a lot of people will dislike the ending, but I found it to be a satisfying finish to the book. Pick this up if you liked The Pisces. Don’t pick this up if you hated The Pisces, dislike reading about women who are constantly making poor life choices, and/or can’t stand detailed descriptions of food, drink, and emesis.

content warnings: on-page sexual assault; fatphobia; detailed descriptions of food; on-page self-harm; misgendering; emesis

My current 2020 Women’s Prize Squad Longlist rankings:

  1. The Body Lies
  2. Girl, Woman, Other
  3. My Dark Vanessa
  4. Supper Club
  5. The Man Who Saw Everything
  6. My Name is Monster
  7. Ninth House
  8. Bunny
  9. The Mercies
  10. Frankissstein

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