Publisher: Scribe UK
Publication date: Out now
Cynthia can understand how Anahera feels just by looking at her body.
Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen. Her striking fitness instructor, Anahera, is ready to throw in the towel on her job and marriage. With stolen money and a dog in tow they run away and buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in a beautiful bay, where Cynthia dreams they will live in a state of love. But strange events on an empty island turn their life together in a different direction.
Baby is a sunburnt psychological thriller of obsession and escape by one of the most exciting new voices in New Zealand fiction.Taken from Baby
I’ll be honest. I think this is one of these books which people will either love or hate. It’s not what I’d describe as a typical narrative. Nothing near it, in fact. We have the perspective of Cynthia, a young woman who steals her father’s money and buys a boat called Baby with her yoga instructor, Anahera, who has recently left her husband.
Cynthia dreams of them falling in love and living out their years together. But it’s just all a bit… bizarre.
This a surreal book. You never get the true perspective of other characters and I would describe the protagonist as unreliable as you just don’t know if anything she sees, thinks, or feels is real.
When I started to get towards the end of the book, I started to think about what I was going to say about this book and I quite honestly had no idea. I had put the book down and spotted a quote on the back by Emily Perkins (another New Zealand author) which reads:
“This funny, sexy, unnerving novel challenges
And that’s when I realised that’s exactly what this book was doing – challenging my perceptions of not only how people behave but now I think they should behave. There is something so ordinary about their living arrangement but something so extraordinary about it due to the behaviour of Cynthia.
After some thought, I settled on a theory which could be totally wrong, and if you’ve ever read this book please let me know in the comments.
At the start of the book we discover Cynthia lives with her father but there is no mention of her mother. As the book progressed, it stood out that Anahera looked after Cynthia. She cooks, cleans, gets groceries, handles the finances etc. As much as this could be representative of a relationship between two adults, it could also be a relationship between a mother and her child. They have a physical relationship but it does not go beyond a brief kiss and cuddles. And let’s not forget the name of the boat…
I’m not going to go into any more detail as this is not an essay and I do not want to spoil the story but the deeper you delve, the more interesting it gets. If you love surreal books with an alternative narrative then you’ll love this. If you’re a traditionalist, maybe skip it.
This book is also a fantastic opportunity to read work coming out of New Zealand, particularly if you’re trying to read international authors.
You’ll love this if you enjoyed:
Many thanks to Scribe UK for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
You can support your local bookshop by buying Baby through them directly, or via Hive.
What do you think of Baby? Will you be reading it? Let me know in the comments below.
Wishing you a bookish week,