In a final, desperate bid for survival, Frances Lorien Van de Oest, heiress to a vast fortune, escapes from her kidnappers and finds herself thrust, naked and bleeding, onto the cold dark streets of an unknown city. There, she is picked up by a charismatic thief named Spanner and reborn as Lore, someone for whom identity has become a fractured, shifting, untrustworthy thing.
Slow River unfolds gradually. The opening narrative, told by Lore in the first person, is set three years after the kidnap, and a few months after her breakup with Spanner. The second narrative tells the story of life with Spanner, beginning immediately after Lore escapes from the kidnappers. The third follows her upbringing, at two year intervals, from the age of five until she is abducted. This triple narrative structure creates a powerful sense of momentum. Lore’s stories move forward in parallel towards a point of convergence, both in terms of time and self.
Parable of the Sower is one of the most harrowing, intense novels I’ve ever read. I had a feeling that I shouldn’t read it while in a raw emotional state, but I picked it up one afternoon, started it and couldn’t stop. Butler has a deceptively simple writing style that hooks you quickly and then grabs you round the throat and shakes you to your core. I don’t think I’ve ever come across another writer who has less pity on her readers.