The Seduction

Joanna Briscoe. Bloomsbury, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4088-7349-6
London artist Beth Penn, the protagonist of this elegant if uneven psychological thriller from Briscoe (Touched), becomes so anxious about the bond between her and daughter Fern as the girl approaches 13, the age at which her own mother walked out of her life, that she risks driving Fern away—one of the main reasons that her husband suggests therapy. Beth, who’s secretly feeling somewhat stuck in their marriage and in her painting career, agrees. Beth swiftly falls under the spell of her therapist, Tamara Bywater, focusing less on the issues she came to explore than the mystery of just what lies behind Tamara’s Mona Lisa smile and Beth’s conviction that they are destined to become close friends—if not more. Tamara initially responds by saying all the right things about transference and professional boundaries, but leaves the door open a tantalizing crack, with disastrous results. After a powerful first half in which the relationship between the two dances largely in the realm of possibility, the plot becomes less convincingly messy. Nonetheless, credit Briscoe with provocatively plumbing a pair of complex women ready to risk all to feel electrically alive. Agent: Jonny Geller, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/19/2020
Release date: 08/25/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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