Louise Wareham Leonard’s writing is elegant and spare, reflecting the beauty, gravitas and loneliness of the characters that populate this striking novel. Holly is a young woman from a family of wealth, trying to navigate the dark undertows of attraction – the power it gives and the cost it carries – while watching her family’s beauty lay waste to those around them.
Holly must find a way through desire to love, but the egos and fantasies at play in her life, create a solitude around her she struggles to understand and dispel. Indistinct relationships, based on the bleak use of male and female power, throw up harsh obstacles. Holly’s intelligent voice captures the tension and desire of love’s formation and flaws, without cliché or angst. In this intentionally fragmented narrative Wareham Leonard charts the effects of truths both ignored and embraced, exposing what is substantial and what is hollow.
This is a beautifully crafted novel from an author with exquisite style and control. Miss Me A Lot Of is a poignant and piercing story capable of absorbing and unsettling the reader.
Reviewed by Marcus Greville of Vic Books. VUP. $30
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Since You Ask, Louise Wareham Leonard’s second novel, is presented as a backwards narrative, recounted by Betsy Scott from within the confines of a mental institute whilst in conversation with her therapist. The therapy and the reason she’s incarcerated remain vague till far later in the book; a shroud of mystery is crafted from the beginning, creating a sense of unease and lack of trust that is central to the story as a whole.
A beautiful ghost of a character, Betsy is as honest as she is troubled, and her story is bold in really fragile ways. As she tells it her youth is dominated by older men, men voracious for her delicacy and beauty who want to establish themselves in her life, not caring if she loses herself in the process.
There is so much wealthy apathy and dosed up emotional disconnection here that it made me feel I was two Ativan deep.
Wareham manages to piece together a story of emotional significance using a subject matter that is so easily trashed; girls like this often just get called names and cast aside, forgotten. Very rarely are they lovingly and indulgently examined – their decisions left to unfold without preemptive judgement. A little bit like a modern Lolita but from the perspective of Lolita herself, this story drifts over significant sensual experiences and cleverly connects them to both the breakage and the fixing of Betsy Scott.
Reviewed by Lily Richards of Unity Auckland.