Sunday, April 10, 2011

LGBT Book review : Wavewalker by Stella Duffy

I won a book! My two reviews for February were entered into the LGBT Reading Challenge draw and I won this Stella Duffy book.  So I thought I’d review it and turn it into a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy..

I admit I hadn’t quite realised that Duffy was a crime writer until I received the book.  Normally I dislike crime books so was quite surprised when this turned out to be very readable.

Central to the plot is Saz – a private detective in London (oh how I love reading books set in real places in my country!).  She is hired to investigate a Maxwell North, a distinguished doctor who also heads up a new age cult movement, focusing on a new type of therapy called The Process.  The Process was dreamt up by Max and some hippies in 1970s Los Angeles and has expanded into a worldwide phenomenom.  The book opens with a murder, and then you discover the web of lies and complications that govern these hippies lives, and it becomes clear that it’s not a clear cut case of so and so killed so and so.

As for the LGBT element, Saz is gay and in this book has just together with her new lover Molly.  There’s a lot of sex scenes in the book, but they aren’t particularly graphic.  This is all for the best I suppose, as quite often descriptive sex scenes come across as rather ridiculous and not the smut-a-thon the author intends (this is not a dig at Duffy, I haven’t read any other books by her, it’s just that on the whole sex scenes aren’t all that sexy).  Saz and Molly are normal, regular lesbians.  There’s no political point to them being gay, there’s no informed, knowing commentary, they are just gay.  Which is nice.

Apart from being incredibly readable, the strengths of this book are the way in which one of the characters, An Anita, analyses and understands her situation.  She starts off as an idealistic hippy, wanting to get stoned and change the world, and ends up as den mother to a group of other hippy drop outs, governed by the patriarchal Max.  It’s not an ideal situation and as you follow Anita’s life story and she grows to comprehend her position in the house, your heart wrenches for her.  It turns out that Duffy is a pretty good character writer, and this book shows it.

One of the weaknesess of the book, or possibly just my reading of it, is I have no friggin clue what or who the Wavewalker is.  The blurb on the back makes the Wavewalker seem mystical and mysterious, but apart from some occasional wishy washy (pun not intended) pages told from the Wavewalker’s point of view, there is no other reference to her/him within the book.  It seems kind of redundant to have her/him in there.  Unless I've missed something of pivotal importance.  It's very possible.

Oh well.  If you like crime, or stories of cults, or lesbian books, check this out.  It’s good fun.


Anonymous said...

hmm, you had me wondering for a moment - it's such an old book for me (written in 1995, published in '96), I couldn't remember who the Wavewalker is/was either!
anyway, I had a look, and am fairly certain all is revealed in the last line on p210, and the last 2 lines on p214/end of ch 33.
glad you enjoyed it regardless!
all best,
Stella Duffy

Saranga said...

Hi there Stella! Thank you for visiting and commenting.

Just relooked at the pages, yep all is revealed as you said!
So yes, other readers - the wavewalker is tied in to the rest of the book.
I think I missed/glazed over those pages when I read it (sorry, that seems horrible rude to say to the author, but I assure you, I did like the rest of the book!).

Anonymous said...

I'm going to assume you were so excited about being almost at the end that you found yourself skimming those pages!

CharmedLassie said...

This sounds like it could be for me - and I'll pay particular attention to those mentioned pages! The phrase 'incredibly readable' is high praise indeed.