Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Review: Slave by V.S. Williams

What if God and Satan were still fighting over the very first soul to sin? That is the premise of Slave, V.S. Williams’s first novel. Ms. Williams’s central character, Eve, is a mostly friendless orphan who has only her cat for company. For the most part, this befuddled young woman is the still point at the center of the novel – the eye of the hurricane. Swirling about Eve are some well-drawn and unique characters, including a surprisingly large number of unhappy spouses.

Ms. Williams has a gift for phrasing that left me in awe and laughter on several occasions. At one point, a desperate, childless woman on the verge of divorce imagines her future:

“The coffee mornings would dry up, she'd be thrown out of the W.I. and so, ladies and gentlemen, there would end the briefest of sorties into an accepting society; by next month she expected to have rejoined the outcasts: criminals, prostitutes and single childless women with an eye on middle age.”

Later, another unhappy wife sums up life this way: “But life was like that, it was rubbish piled up next to palaces, orchids growing on dung heaps.”

Despite the large cast, Ms. Williams did a wonderful job of fleshing out her characters. Overall, the only character I didn’t care for was Eve. She was so oblivious to the surrounding world that I found it difficult to empathize with her or care very much about her fate. I was much more interested in the destinies of those surrounding her; in fact, I was heartbroken for one particular father and his daughter.

There are enough errors in the book – mostly punctuation and extra or missed words – that I believe a good copy editor is in order. However, these errors didn’t significantly impact my reading enjoyment.

This is a commendable first novel, given its topic and scope. I believe Ms. Williams has just begun to show us what she can do, and I can hardly wait to see her future work.

**UPDATE 6/3/11** I have been in touch with the author and provided her with my list of concerns, some of which, according to the author, are differences between American and British English -- something I certainly can understand. The others are being corrected and a new version will be uploaded soon, thus making future readers that much more impressed with her work. 

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