The Book of V.
The Book of V. has to be one of the most masterfully crafted and thought-provoking books I’ve read in years. It follows a major event in the lives of three women – one in biblical times, one in 1970s Washington, and one in present-day Brooklyn. All three are forced to confront male power in frighteningly similar ways.
But the themes of this book go well beyond that. These women’s stories are of family and feminism, of power and the lack thereof, and of the search for fulfillment.
The biblical voice is Esther, of the biblical story of Esther. The 1970s voice is Vee, married to a power-hungry congressman in DC. The contemporary voice is Lily, a wife and mother of two, who looks around her at women who seem settled into their lives while she struggles to find her place in the world.
From the start, The Book of V. made me think – first about the parallels between these three women, and then, once I grasped that, about the larger issues of the book. Like, the clash of power between the sexes, even within the sexes, and the role feminism plays in that. Like, the role of sex itself, good and bad, in relationships. Like, men in power who should not be and the impact that has on women. Like, the choices women make, that haven’t really changed in thousands of years.
Let me say here that I had to work to get into this book. My reading time was broken up, and I had to latch onto three separate stories. Once done, though, I was blown away. The Book of V. isn’t a long one, which made my fixation with the characters all the more remarkable. Moreover, there is a surprise twist at the end.
I’ll be rereading this book. I don’t usually do that, but I sense I’ll get even more from it the second time around.