While I was away on holiday (which was wonderful, absolutely wonderful, and during which I read some incredible books), my review of Karen Brown’s novel The Longings of Wayward Girls was published at The Rumpus:
The title of Karen Brown’s début novel, The Longings of Wayward Girls, is an apt fit for this story with its persistent curiosity about indiscretion and desire. But the word wayward sticks a little, draws attention to itself. What does it mean to be a wayward girl? Is this about being willful, difficult and capricious? The emphasis here is on perverse behavior or character—and a not-so-easy one at that. But wayward also hints at a journey, an idea of wandering; it conjures up phrases like “the way forward,” or it highlights an opposite direction, “homeward.”
It is worthwhile pushing a little precision here, because the women and girls within the pages of Brown’s novel are not just wayward, they are lost. This darker, more concrete meaning of wayward is really what hums throughout the story—babies lost at birth, girls lost in the woods, women lost to their own purpose, lost to their families. In some sense, the parade of wayward behavior within these pages is trumped by an even greater carnival of loss—lost items, lost memories, lost siblings, lost loves, lost lives.
You can read the full review here.
I thoroughly enjoy Brown’s writing as well as the dark suburban worlds her characters inhabit. I reviewed her earlier short story collection, Little Sinners, at Necessary Fiction. She has one other previous story collection (Pins and Needles) which I’m looking forward to reading, and then I can’t wait to see what she’ll be publishing in the future.