A review of Spens’s Death of a Ladies’ Man

Death of a Ladies' ManDeath of a Ladies’ Man by Christiana Spens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Serialized on 3AM Magazine, DOALM has just come out in Print with Galley Beggar Press, and I recommend it highly. Overall: rich characters and a very grounded, real-world plot. Stylistically it delivers clean, sometimes stark and always measured prose, a narrative that stays close to the protagonists and takes it’s time without being long-winded, a pleasure to read.

I was fascinated by the relationship between Adrian and his estranged, cynical wife, a matured (almost rancid) sort of love tainted with disdain and desperation that I felt was all too real; the shortcomings they both seemed to accept in each other: the politically-correct alcoholism; the prescribed narcotics; the adultery (it’s a hard knock life for the upper-crust…). The London setting is not just a backdrop but a relevant character that comes through strongly, giving us a portrayal of England that is dark without being depressing, sometimes even comical in its brush with satire, and speaks volumes in between the lines.

There is something tragic about this tale (well, obviously, it’s about death and disgrace and some generally despicable people) but Spens is forgiving in her portrayal, giving us the ugly but also the softer side, the frailty beneath the cold, hard surface of things. After all, even the worst of us are only human.

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