A gripping take on the #MeToo era, Jessica Moor’s Young Women is set in a slightly clichéd version of middle-class London. Emily, a young lawyer now working for a women’s advocacy charity, has a chance encounter with charismatic, would-be actress Tamsin at a climate change protest.
At first, their budding friendship plays out like the beginnings of a love story – or a potentially dangerous obsession, fuelled equally by suppressed desire and envy. A scandal mushrooms, revolving around the exposure of a middle-aged, mainstream director now implicated in the sexual coercion and assault of a number of younger actresses who’ve worked with him.
Moor’s novel falls neatly into two halves. The first feels like it’s going to be one of those toxic female friendship tales where one partner has all the glamour, money, and excitement – but about halfway through this shifts into a different story altogether and Tamsin, the partner who fits this bill, essentially disappears from the narrative.
One of the hot issues raised in Young Women is to what extent women might be complicit in perpetuating rape culture by accepting this silence in return for money: a difficult topic that touches on choice, responsibility, agency, self-care and what individuals might need to do to survive. The consequences of Emily’s behaviour feel underdeveloped and the shift of focus a little unsatisfying, but the righteous anger in Jessica Moor’s writing rings out.
Young Women, Jessica Moor (Bonnier)
Price: £14.99. Info: here
words BILLIE INGRAM SOFOKLEOUS
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