Love Slave, by Jennifer Spiegel.
This is not the world I imagined, the world I set out for, the world I even admire. My friends used to talk about a love that makes one stagger. No one told me about disappointment. No one mentioned necessity. - from Love Slave -
Sybil Weatherfield is fast approaching thirty. She lives in New York City in a basement apartment with unreliable hot water and writes self-absorbed columns for New York Shock, an alternative newspaper. She supports herself by temping and spends her free time with her friend Madeline, a human rights activist. Together they hit New York's coffee houses and bars, following a band ironically named "Glass Half Full." Sybil is dating a conservative businessman named Jeff, but spends most of her time with Glass Half Full's lead singer, Rob.
Sybil is a conflicted young woman -- she longs for a life of grandeur, but lacks the motivation to give up temping; she loves the status of Jeff, but feels most drawn to the mysterious Rob; she doubts her ability as a writer, but dreams about penning a novel. Sybil also struggles with an eating disorder. Her story unfolds in her unique, self deprecating voice and through her often funny and absurd column in New York Shock. Her cohort, Madeline, chain-smokes and plans her escape from the City. Together, the two stumble through their angst-filled lives searching for the bigger meaning of life.
Jennifer Spiegel's novel is a very funny, surprisingly poignant journey into the heart of one young woman looking for real love in the city that never sleeps. New York City is a character in this book which pulses with urban street life, trendy restaurants, and smoke-filled bars. It is against this backdrop that Sybil confronts her own fears and dreams.
New York is not wholly who I am, but it's a part. - from Love Slave -
I have to admit, I grew quite fond of the quirky and cynical Sybil as Love Slave unfolded. When she compares her relationship with boyfriend Jeff to a tampon, I couldn't help but laugh out loud because this is Sybil -- outrageous,wholly herself, and stumbling through life with bad analogies.
This is Sybil Weatherfield at her best: analytical, quirky, sardonic, gloomy. "Think about it, Rob -- it's perfect! The tampon's a great metaphor for our hapless, utilitarian relationship." I pause. "You need 'em, but don't like 'em. In fact, out of sight, out of mind. Downright gross. In this case, altogether unnecessary. And where was it after all that? " I look at him victoriously. "In the garbage!" - from Love Slave -
And it is because of this very human quality that readers will find themselves rooting for Sybil to discover that thing which will make her life more beautiful and meaningful. Midway through this delightful novel, I found myself unwilling to put it aside for very long. I wanted to see what would happen to Sybil. I longed for her to make the right choices. I implored her to finally be the winner I knew she could be.
It doesn't happen very often that I relate to a character in a book as a living, breathing person. But that is exactly the gift that Spiegel gives her readers in Love Slave. Here is a novel that will appeal to a wide range of literary fiction lovers. It has just the right amount of lightness and humor mixed with wisdom to make it memorable. Sybil Weatherfield is a character who will grab onto your heart and not let go.
★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2: Four and a half stars out of five.
FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.
Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".