The bold new novel by Women’s Prize longlisted author Emily Perkins. Lioness is a brave, exuberant and illuminating exploration of identity that exposes the chasm between what one believes and how one actually lives.
From humble beginnings, Therese has let herself grow used to a life of luxury after marrying into an empire-building family. But when rumours of corruption gather around her husband’s latest development, the social opprobrium is shocking, the fallout swift, and Therese begins to look at her privileged and insular world with new eyes.
In the flat below Therese, something else is brewing. Her neighbour Claire believes she’s discovered the secret to living with freedom and authenticity, freeing herself from the mundanity of domesticity. Therese finds herself enchanted by the lure of the permissive zone Claire creates in her apartment – a place of ecstatic release.
‘All too quickly, Therese is forced to confront herself and her choices – just how did she become this person? And what exactly should she do about it?’.
Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award winner (2011) Emily Perkins established herself early on as an important writer of her generation. And this position is galvanised through the mesmerising and deeply perceptive work she has created in Lioness, a novel that roars with the desire for authenticity and reinvention.
Perkins’ writing is intimate and immediate, working on several levels; we’re fast-tracked into Therese’s inner world, whilst simultaneously watching her outer one unravel. The seemingly perfect existence of Therese is falling apart as Trevor, her older and successful property developing husband, makes the headlines with allegations of corruption. And just like that, the picture-perfect house of cards – including stepchildren and a first wife Therese has lived in the shadow of – collapses.
Perkins does a brilliant job of portraying this perfect non-reality and its undoing. It’s thrown into sharp relief by the spirited and joyously crafted character of Claire – the antithesis of pretension, who’s living by her own light.
Perkins’ prose is elegant, economical and seamless. She’s a magnificent writer, commenting on women’s empowerment, awakening and visibility to themselves with poise and grace.
Lioness is both a riveting and deeply perceptive read that I highly recommend. Special mention also needs to be made of the stunning and apt cover.