Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Pisces by Melissa Broder


Lucy is at a crossroads in her life and she doesn't know what direction to take.  She has worked on a doctoral dissertation for nine years but is now ambivalent about it and thinks she may have made a mistake.  She is at the same place with her boyfriend of many years, Jamie.  When they first got together, both insisted they were fine with no thought of marriage or living together.  As the years passed, Lucy began to change but Jamie still thought their arrangement was perfect.  When Lucy flared up at him and said maybe they should break up, she was shocked when he agreed that maybe 'they needed a little space.'

So she has picked up from the Arizona desert she has called home for over a decade and come to Venice Beach, California, to housesit for the summer for her sister who is in Italy with her husband.  She is also petsitting their fox terrier, Dominic, and for many days he is her only company.  She joins a counseling group for women who are having issues but doesn't really relate to them.

The women seem addicted to men and sex.  There is the woman who lets her boyfriend treat her terribly, ,using her for money and a residence while dating anyone he wants.  There is the woman who spends her days on Tinder meeting men for meaningless sex; she is determined to have a harem of men so that no one man means that much.  Another woman who everyone thinks has it all, rich, wonderful children, spends her days at the club in sordid affairs with the young tennis pros.  Lucy sees them and wonders if she can learn anything from them.

She tries the Tinder route and has a few dates and sex with a few men but it is not satisfying.  She is about to give up entirely when she meets a young man.  She has gone at night down to the beach and sitting on the rocks she senses someone there.  When she looks down, a man is in the water and says he is resting before starting his swim again.  Theo says he swims every night.  Lucy is interested but decides he is too young for her.

But she keeps going back at night and Theo is always there.  As the days pass, they get more and more involved until she falls in love even as he reveals his biggest secret, one that would make him unavailable to most women.  Could this be the love of her life?  What will she give up to be with him and only him?  Is Theo even telling her the truth?

Melissa Broder has written an intriguing novel that was nominated for the Woman's Fiction Prize.  Lucy seems insatiable yet restless, a woman who never knows what she wants and pushes it aside if it appears she is getting it.  The women all seem to want men in their lives but don't know how to make the men want them the same way.  For some readers, the graphic sex in the novel may make it questionable but others will find it quite erotic.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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