Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey
"You were going to work your way into my marriage and you were going to call its new three-way shape holy," writes the unnamed narrator of Dear Thief. The book, written as an ongoing letter to the narrator's best friend, Nina, discusses the period in which Nina shows up on the narrator's doorstep and works her way into her friend's life and marriage and motherhood. The narrator is married with a small child who adores Nina and nicknames her Butterfly.
Nina is the ultimate narcissist. She lives for the moment, taking whatever she wants with no apologies and no regrets. She moves into the house and is good to the child, when the fancy takes her. She also takes drugs and her only concession to the child's presence is to lock them up when she isn't partaking. She takes whatever food she wants, goes about her day with no regard for the household routine and contributes very little. She ultimately takes the narrator's husband, openly and with no expression of regrets, just an expectation that the narrator will adapt to new circumstances. Then when she has created chaos, she disappears. The novel is written eighteen years later after her disappearance.
The narrator talks about her life was changed by Nina. She discusses her reactions to the upheaval and how her longing for Nina's friendship allows her to move in and destroy all the narrator holds dear. She fantasizes that no one has heard from Nina since because she murdered and buried her. Instead of that powerful retaliation, she has instead led a life since Nina of steadily diminished expectations and rewards.
Samantha Harvey is considered one of her generation's upcoming authors. Her novels have been nominated for both Orange and Man Booker prizes and she was a nominee in the Guardian First Book Award. She delves into the human soul and documents our longing for connection, even if that connection is unhealthy. Readers will turn the final page of Dear Thief with many thoughts about their own friendships and the part they play in their lives and how trusting others opens us to possible devastation. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.