Friday 16 August 2019

Devotion by Madeline Stevens @Madeli63 BLOG TOUR @FaberBooks #Devotion

Ella is flat broke: wasting away on bodega coffee, barely making rent, seducing the occasional strange man who might buy her dinner. Unexpectedly, an Upper East Side couple named Lonnie and James rescue her from her empty bank account, offering her a job as a nanny and ushering her into their moneyed world. Ella's days are now spent tending to the baby in their elegant brownstone or on extravagant excursions with the family. Both women are just 26--but unlike Ella, Lonnie has a doting husband and son, unmistakable artistic talent, and old family money.
Ella is mesmerized by Lonnie's girlish affection and disregard for the normal boundaries of friendship and marriage. Convinced there must be a secret behind Lonnie's seemingly effortless life, Ella begins sifting through her belongings, meticulously cataloguing lipstick tubes and baby teeth and scraps of writing. All the while, Ella's resentment grows, but so does an inexplicable and dizzying attraction. Soon Ella will be immersed so deeply in her cravings--for Lonnie's lifestyle, her attention, her lovers--that she may never come up for air.
Riveting, propulsive, and startling, Devotion is a masterful debut novel where mismatched power collides with blinding desire, incinerating our perceptions of femininity, lust, and privilege.

Devotion by Madeline Stevens was published by Faber on 15 August 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and who invited me to take part in this Blog Tour.

I have a weakness for an unlikeable character and Devotion gives the reader not one, but two of them. I'm not sure that we are supposed to dislike them, but I did. However, I loved this book. I loved how the author creates tension and darkness, and how those characters linger in the head, long after closing the final page.

Ella and Lonnie are the same age and live in the same city. That's where their likeness ends. Ella is desperate; she has no money, she's hungry, her flat is a dump and she has no regular partner. Her love life consists of pulling men who look like they may be able to afford to buy her dinner.

Ella's luck changes when, very surprisingly, she's hired by a wealthy couple to look after their small son so that Lonnie, the mother, can write.

This really is a clash of backgrounds, beliefs and circumstances and as Ella spends more time with Lonnie, she becomes more and more engrossed with her life, with her belongings, with everything about her. This obsessive attraction is carefully and cleverly created by the author, and makes for an eerie and unsettling read.

Don't expect fast-paced thrills, or twists and turns; this is far more subtle than that and it's a cleverly created, slow burn yet addictive story that totally gripped me.

The subject of the female friends relationship has always fascinated me and Madeline Stevens has created a story that feels quite dangerous. There's no padding, nothing spare, just an impeccably told story.  Highly recommended by me.

Madeline Stevens is a writer from Boring, Oregon currently based in Los Angeles. 
Her first novel Devotion is forthcoming in the US and Canada from Ecco Press August 13, 2019. 
Devotion will also be published by Faber & Faber in the UK and translated into six languages. Madeline holds an MFA from Columbia University and her work has been published in a variety of literary magazines
She teaches creative writing to adults and children through Catapult and Writopia Lab.

Twitter @Madeli63

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