Chloe Hooper is a young Australian writer who appears to have had a dream run in a difficult career choice. She had short stories published while still at the University of Melbourne and then while only 23, won a Fulbright scholarship to Columbia University in New York. It was here she studied creative writing and her first novel was written as part of this course. This first novel, A Child’s Book of True Crime was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and her second book, The Tall Man won the Premiers’ Awards in three states. A shorter version of this book was published in “The Monthly” and won her a Walkley, Australia’s top journalism award. A gifted writer with a wonderful reputation.
The Engagement is a great read that does nothing but add to this young writers reputation. It is set in Australia and could be classified as a gothic fantasy or a psychological thriller. It has you guessing from the start and as it is told from Liese’s perspective you are never too sure if everything is what it seems.
Chloe Hooper stated “One of the reasons I wrote this novel was I was interested in writing about women and money and their price”
Money, or lack of money, is where all Lieses’ problems start. She is retrenched from her position as an interior architect in London and because of her mounting debt she decides to start afresh in Australia. She starts working for her uncles real estate company showing buyers around properties and it is here she meets “blandly handsome” Alexander Coloquhoun. One thing leads to another and after a bout of passion, which involes Lieses’ erotic imagination, he assumes she is “a professional” and so pays her. Needing the money she neglets to dissuade him of his error. They meet at other properties and continue the game.
“I liked being paid. I liked it very much. I found myself making constant calculations of how many hours we’d need to screw before I could pay off my creditors. Debt filled my days with arithmetic”
He invites her to his country mansion for a weekend, offering her a ridiculous amount of money. This is where the novel becomes a classic Gothic thriller, trapped in a crumbling family mansion in the country. A good setting to make your hairs stand on edge! It is here where you start to wonder just whose fantasy is this !
I particularily liked the scene in the kitchen when he is butchering an animal. It is so well written, you can feel the tension and even smell the blood. The whole book is very skillfully written. I can see it being made into a great movie, not too sure who would play the lead roles though!