Exuberant and Illuminating: Read an Extract from Lioness by Emily Perkins

Exuberant and Illuminating: Read an Extract from Lioness by Emily Perkins

Trevor turned off the alarm and rolled back to face me across the creamy hotel sheets. He gripped my wrist and held it on the pillow between us.

‘I’ve got you.’

With my free hand I thumbed the sun-damaged skin below his neck. I thought of this part of his body, usually hidden by a shirt collar and tie, as mine.

‘I’m going to be late,’ I said.

It was our last day in Sydney. I was due to meet the real estate agent in Darling Point.

Trevor kissed me. As was my habit, I had got out of bed before he woke, to clean my teeth. Now he had my other wrist, and pressed them both above my head, against the padded headboard.

His knee pushed between my legs. A memory of my neighbour, Claire – our last weird encounter – scratched at my brain but was erased by the morning smell of Trevor’s sweat and his skin’s heat as he moved on top of me. My blood rushed in response, and I shifted, arching to meet him.

‘I’ve got to get up.’

‘You’ve got to go,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to go to work.’

After all this time sex could still be a series of negotiations, small advances and retreats over territory. Yes. No. There. Briefly

I floated out of myself to see us from the outside – the linen in the soft morning light, his tousled silvery hair, the thick curve of his shoulders, my blonde streaks spread across the pillow, one leg wound around his hips. The image took me to the edge of an orgasm, but Claire’s face appeared again, distracting me. Go away!

I had a weird feeling of triumph when Trevor came, as if I’d won a fight.

‘Now you,’ he said.

‘Later.’ I got out of bed and stood naked in front of him, watching him look. ‘I’ve got to go.’

We had come to Sydney so Trevor could meet an investor face to face, and I could scout locations to open my first Therese Thorne store in Australia. It was early December, and the city had already attained a heat we wouldn’t feel back in Wellington even at the height of summer.

The open air malls were strung with Christmas lights, the sea burned in electric glimpses between buildings and trees, and that stink of flying foxes hovered in the Botanic Gardens – the sort of hot smell you can’t help sniffing for, like from a marker pen, or a pair of knickers kicked off onto the bedroom floor.

The Darling Point site was an empty retail space in a converted worker’s cottage fronted by frothing jacarandas. The small, low-slung building was the last of its kind on a side street, off a road lined by grand hedges which afforded occasional views of wedding cake villas and airy modern developments. The estate agent’s motorbike dominated the path that led to the front door, a sleek black insect that had waited outside all my viewings that week. I manoeuvred around it, sweating and nervous from the rush to get there, but inside, a respite from the heat, the space was quiet, and smelled cleanly of sawdust…

Continue reading the extract here…

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Bold and Brilliantly Perceptive: Read Our Review of Lioness by Emily Perkins

Review | Our Review

26 July 2023

Bold and Brilliantly Perceptive: Read Our Review of Lioness by Emily Perkins

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      Publisher details

      Emily Perkins
      04 July, 2023


      You know how we say we devoured a story, and also that we were consumed by it? Eating and being eaten. It was like that with Claire, for me.

      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?

      Emily Perkins
      About the author

      Emily Perkins

      Emily Perkins is the author of a prize-winning collection of short stories, Not Her Real Name, and four novels, including Novel About My Wife (winner of the NZ Book Award and the Believer Magazine Book of the Year, and The Forrests (longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction). Her work for stage and screen includes co-writing the film adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s novel The Rehearsal (dir. Alison Maclean), an adaptation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, and the original play The Made. She lives in New Zealand.

      Books by Emily Perkins


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