Living in Wales, hot summers can be few and far between, but Lilian Fishman’s debut novel Acts Of Service is a modern, provocative love story guaranteed to have you overheating in no time.
Twentysomething barista Eve has grown bored of her staid, dependable girlfriend, and worries that she is squandering her youth by not seeking out a more exciting life. After posting pictures of herself online, she falls into a hedonistic relationship with another woman and her suave, domineering boyfriend.
Fans of Sally Rooney will relish this intimately told, cerebral tale: both authors share a penchant for morally ambiguous romances and highly introspective heroines, plus an annoying aversion to speech marks. Some may find its privileged narrator and tepid resolution problematic; others may dismiss it as an albeit better-written Fifty Shades. Yet at its heart, Acts Of Service is an intelligent, fearless exploration of the blurred lines between consent and coercion.
It dares to ask if the two female protagonists’ desires are truly innate, or subconsciously forced upon them by a patriarchal society. In doing so, Fishman questions whether it is possible to be liberated through being willingly degraded and if passion can – or should – ever win out against shame.
Acts Of Service, Lilian Fishman (Europa Editions)
Price: £12.99. Info: here
words RACHEL REES
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