Harriet Tyce: Blood Orange
Published By: Wildfire Books
Buy It: here
What The Blurb Says:
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…
Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.
Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.
I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.
Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.
I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.
But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….
What I Say:
‘She and I have both let our husbands tell us how to feel bad about ourselves, carrying all the guilt for failures that belong to them too.’
Sometimes as a book blogger, it is easy to fall under a spell and believe the hype surrounding a novel. People tell you that it’s breathtaking, that it’s one you cannot afford to miss, and that your blogging life will shine less brightly if you don’t somehow manage to read it.
Let me say from the outset – absolutely believe the hype about Blood Orange.
From the very first page you are drawn into Alison’s world and become a helpless bystander and a fierce protector of her. She seems to have it all, a successful career and a lovely picture perfect family. Unfortunately, like so many of us, what you seem to see is not really what you get. Alison is having an affair with a senior colleague called Patrick – it is not a hearts and flowers romantic relationship – it is unsettling, and the sex seems at times to push the boundaries as to how consensual Alison actually is. Her husband Carl works part time as a counsellor, and is responsible for the running of the home and the childcare for their daughter Matilda.
The problem is that Alison is seemingly out of control at home and work, as she drinks far more than she should, and is unable to be the mother, wife and career woman she desperately wants to be. Aware that her life is becoming increasingly reckless, and that Carl is now at the point where he is concerned for her spending time with her daughter, Alison tries to keep her professional life in check. This is easier said than done as she is inexplicably and constantly drawn to Patrick, who knows how much she needs him, and as a result, treats her as despicably as he wants.
When Alison is asked to defend Madeleine Smith by Patrick, a woman who is charged with the murder of her husband, she has to work with Madeleine to understand why she attacked her seemingly loving husband in such a frenzied and unprovoked attack. As Alison tries to establish herself in the case, working with Madeleine and at the same time ensuring she keeps Patrick happy with her work, as a reader I was aware of how desperately frustrating and common this scenario is. Patrick is the one who has given her the case, and she is constantly under his control which makes it even more complicated for her as the lines between personal and professional life become increasingly blurred. She may think she has the authority, but Patrick relishes in ensuring she knows he is really in charge.
In Alison, Harriet Tyce has created a character who on paper we would all perhaps aspire to be, in that on the outside she has a successful career and a solid, reliable partner who supports her in her work.
The thing is, I am writing this review in 2019, and yet the same societal entrenched issues are achingly evident in Blood Orange. Alison cannot be a successful career woman and a successful mother. If she does one, she is seen as not fully committing to the other, and our society is still very ready to admonish women for whichever choice they have to make. Alison is trying to do her best in a world which wants her to make a decision to be one thing or the other.
The men in Blood Orange are strong and dominating characters, but they are not likeable. Patrick and Carl are full of the privileges and sanctimonious speech that the patriarchal society they are born in rewards them for. Carl’s willingness to be the house husband somehow means he is regarded as noble and selfless, whilst Alison’s dedication to work and career is seen as selfish and thoughtless. Patrick is driven and ambitious, yet for Alison to admit to be those things is regarded as a sign she cannot possibly be a ‘real’ mother.
As Alison works with Madeleine to prepare her defence, she starts to understand that although they may on the surface be very different, their lives have much in common, and both of them are controlled by the men in their lives. Madeleine’s admission of murder actually comes from a place of love and protection, and as Alison desperately tries to keep everyone happy, she is forced to confront the fact that in order to free herself of all the toxicity in her life, she might just have to do the unthinkable to protect her daughter.
It is difficult to write a review of Blood Orange, because to say too much would give away everything. I loved this book because Alison isn’t perfect. She is flawed, emotional and sometimes you just want to reach into the novel and tell her to get a grip for the sake of her daughter if nothing else. The writing is raw, truthful and at times far from comfortable. The scenes between Patrick and Alison are extremely graphic, but that is only true to the nature of their relationship, which at times seemingly comes from a place of mutual hatred and a need to assert their power over each other.
In Blood Orange, Harriet Tyce has written a novel which will in turn appall, repulse and shock you. Like Alison, it is not until the final chapters that the full horror of what has been happening will ultimately dawn on you.
It will make you stop in your tracks, read the last chapters with your heart in your mouth, and realise that in Alison, Harriet has created a character whose flaws and faults are actually the very things that are used against her by the men who she so unfailingly trusted.
I absolutely loved Blood Orange.
Harriet has written an unlikely heroine for our times, who helps us all understand that no one ever really knows what goes on when we finally close our doors to the outside world .
Thank you so much to Georgina Moore and Wildfire Books for my gifted copy.