Author: Madeline Stevens
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 15th August 2019
Desire. Deception. Destruction. Devotion.
Ella is 26, lonely, hungry and far from home. Lonnie is also 26, but rich, talented and beautiful – with a husband and son to match.
Their fates intertwine the day Ella is hired as the family’s nanny. She finds herself mesmerised by Lonnie’s girlish affection and disregard for the normal boundaries of friendship and marriage, but soon resentment grows too.
I love books about obsession, the boundaries of friendship and the idea that one person can insert themselves into another’s life in such an insidious manner. We follow main character Ella as she becomes a nanny to a young boy with wealthy, privileged parents. Ella becomes completely obsessed with the boy’s mother, Lonnie, in a way that seems to lie somewhere between adoration and jealousy. Things get more and more complicated as time goes on and frankly more and more odd as these characters are forced to face the truth of their relationships.
Devotion is quite a strange little book in the sense that most of the characters are difficult to root for in any way. Ella (or Elle as she begins to call herself) is, the reader understands pretty quickly, a distinctly damaged and unstable person. She comes across as desperate for drama and attention . She is a complete fantasist, and seems to want to live through Lonnie whose fleeting moods and actions she gives far too much weight and meaning to. Ella’s compulsion to ingratiate herself into Lonnie’s entire persona seems frequently quite indecent. She goes through Lonnie’s every possession in an invasive and bizarre way. Lonnie herself is portrayed as the typical bohemian type of woman for whom everything comes easy and who is stunningly elegant and poised. I found their odd and insular relationship with each other really compelling and I think it’s one of the best things about Devotion. There’s also a weird kind of lyricism to Steven’s writing which I loved.
If you like a book with a clear story arc, Devotion might not be for you. It is quite meandering and is a character study of sorts. I enjoyed it a lot, mostly because of the gorgeous prose, but I could maybe have done with slightly more resolution. Despite that, I do think this is the perfect read for a lazy summer afternoon about the strange lengths people will go to when they become completely possessed by obsession.
Devotion by Madeline Stevens
I received this e-arc through Netgalley. My review is my own honest opinion.
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