Book Review: Love and Virtue by Diana Reid

About the Book:

Sex.

Power.

Consent.

Whenever I say I was at university with Eve, people ask me what she was like, sceptical perhaps that she could have always been as whole and self-assured as she now appears. To which I say something like: ‘People are infinitely complex.’ But I say it in such a way—so pregnant with misanthropy—that it’s obvious I hate her.

Michaela and Eve are two bright, bold women who befriend each other their first year at a residential college at university, where they live in adjacent rooms. They could not be more different; one assured and popular – the other uncertain and eager-to-please. But something happens one night in O-week – a drunken encounter, a foggy memory that will force them to confront the realities of consent and wrestle with the dynamics of power.

Initially bonded by their wit and sharp eye for the colleges’ mix of material wealth and moral poverty, Michaela and Eve soon discover how fragile friendship is, and how capable of betrayal they both are.

Written with a strikingly contemporary voice that is both wickedly clever and incisive, issues of consent, class and institutional privilege, and feminism become provocations for enduring philosophical questions we face today.

Published by Ultimo Press

Released October 2021

My Thoughts:

This was an intelligently delivered and impactfully thought provoking novel. There are many themes to wrestle with throughout this one, some more insidious and less obvious than others. The big ones are around consent and sexual humiliation, toxic masculinity and the use of wealth and privilege to ‘rewrite’ the rules. However, I found other aspects equally as concerning. The abuse of power in institutions where middle aged professors engage in illicit affairs with young and impressionable women who possess zero life skills in navigating such a predatory minefield. Also, our Australian culture of binge drinking that has persisted throughout the decades and the impacts this has on consent for both women and men. Above all, the theme of toxic feminism was screaming its way for airtime and when it finally found its voice, it was shocking and abhorrent. The biggest abuse of wealth and privilege within the novel and it was a woman who thought nothing of wielding it.

This is a novel that will have tongues wagging for a long time, I’d wager, and is an absolute cracker of a book club pick. I am filled with many opinions about it and after reading I immediately had a conversation with a blogging friend who read it days before I did. It’s that kind of book, the sort where you want talk about it, message about it, and pull it to pieces so you can examine everything at close range. I am predicting a cult following for this one. Love and Virtue is a novel worth reading and it will certainly inspire discussion and introspection. Brave and bold, an assured debut.

☕☕☕☕

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Love and Virtue by Diana Reid

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