The Pisces by Melissa Broder, which was published last May, tells the story of Lucy, a woman who has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for several years. She and Jamie suddenly break up and she hits rock bottom. Her sister Annika invites her to her house, in Venice Beach, to take care of her diabetic dog while she is away. Lucy, who is auto-destructive, anxious, insecure and needy, can’t seem to find her own path. She doesn’t care about the love addiction group therapy meetings, about Annika’s dog Dominic who shows affection to her and she stops caring about her own dissertation. Her Tinder dates are not enough and suddenly she meets a quite singular swimmer.
Let me just start by saying that I wasn’t a fan of this one. This book is being marketed as literary fiction and I think it might be misleading. This is my personal opinion but I would say this one should be categorized as a Women’s Fiction book. Now, I didn’t know much about this one besides its synopsis before diving into it so let me warn you that this novel has a fantasy/magical element in it.
Why didn’t I like this book? I wrote a Master’s thesis about eroticism so I am definitely fine with the explicit sexual descriptions. I am also not a reader who dislikes a book because it portrays unlikeable characters. But this Lucy is one of the most miserable and hateful characters I’ve ever found in a book. I hated her. She is self-centered and selfish. She continually criticizes and mocks other women. And, she neglects Dominic. If you’re sensitive about animal abuse, you should skip this book. I was hoping that at the end Lucy would find her own way but actually she never really does. At least, as a reader, I don’t believe she does. And, haven’t we had enough of this silly stereotype that casts single women, after their thirties, as needy and desperate for men and relationships? I know I had. Maybe I was hoping to read a book about a woman who, suddenly alone, found her own strength and own path. Maybe that was my mistake. And I don’t think this was a satire. I think this book was meant to be funny. It wasn’t for me. I know that Broder was probably just trying to depict the life of a person with mental illness but this issue should have been approached differently, in my opinion.
BUT, I really enjoyed Broder’s writing. I think it’s raw and razor-sharp and, because I wrote a thesis on eroticism, I know that it takes talent to write explicit sexual scenes without being trashy or vulgar. Aside from that, I also loved when she delved into the world of Sappho. I recommend this book to you if you enjoy romance, women’s fiction and even fantasy. You might like it. But, like I said, if you don’t tolerate animal abuse/neglect, stay away from this book. As I enjoyed Broder’s writing style, I think I might give her another shot!
I’d like to thank Hogarth for the free copy. You can buy it here.
“I would say I’m less afraid of dying than I am of life.”
Publisher: Hogarth (Penguin Random House)
Published on: May 2018