Lynn Freed,
The Curse of the Appropriate Man
(Harcourt, 2004)

Lynn Freed, an accomplished novelist, has released a collection of 14 stories that were written over the course of two decades and were previously unpublished. At its core, this collection -- The Curse of the Appropriate Man -- is about the secret desires (or compulsions, if you prefer that terminology) of women. These desires influence the actions that define the lives of women, from a curious pre-adolescent engaging in sexual relations in the basement of her family home, to paralyzing confusion and homesickness of a high school exchange student, to a complex web of family shadows, and to an abusive relationship between two lesbians.

The novel's beautiful cover and subtle prose are wrapped around a core content that is quite erotic and unconventional, in the manner of alternative lifestyles. It's nothing like the smarmy love stories I expected to read, so from that angle it was refreshing.

While I did enjoy reading these stories, they aren't without their flaws, and this book doesn't make it on to my "must-read" list. If you are intrigued by my description, though, it is most likely perfect for you.

by Jessica Lux-Baumann
24 June 2006

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