From Chloe Hooper, author of the phenomenal The Tall Man, comes a brilliant novel about sex and money. The Engagement is a taut psychological thriller in which the deft blurring of reality and dark fantasy rivals that of Luis Bunuel's classic Belle de Jour. Liese Campbell has an engagement for the weekend: to stay with Alexander Colquhoun, the well-mannered heir of a pastoral dynasty, at his property in western Victoria. Liese, an English architect in flight from the financial crisis, now works at her uncle's real-estate business in Melbourne. Alexander has been looking for a place in the city. The luxury apartments Liese shows him have become sets for a relationship that satisfies their fantasies – and helps pay her debts. It's a game. Both players understand the rules. Or so she thinks. Across the ancient landscape they drive at dusk to his grand decaying mansion. Here Liese senses a change in Alexander, and realises a different game has begun. This gripping, provocative novel by one of Australia's finest writers is a psychological thriller for the modern age, one which explores the snares of money and love, and the dark side of erotic imagination. A trap has been set, but how and why? And for whom?
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Chloe Hooper was born in Melbourne in 1973. She was educated at the University of Melbourne and as a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University, New York. Her first novel, A Child’s Book of True Crime, was a New York Times Notable Book and short-listed for the Orange Prize. She lives in Australia.Review:
“A gothic tale, filled with brilliantly creepy details.” (Suzy Hansen Financial Times (UK))
“As in the best of Patricia Highsmith, it’s not entirely clear whether a crime is being committed at all...it’s a measure of the novel’s quality that re-reading does not resolve everything but drives the ambiguities deeper...The Engagement reminds us of the powers of fiction.” (The Guardian Review (U.K.))
“A book of coercion and sexual games, fantasy and, yes, feminism, for those who prefer their erotic literature less Fifty Shades of Grey and more Jane Eyre...This high-octane theatre is perversely satisfying, even as we succumb to its manipulation.” (The Telegraph (U.K.))
“Hooper has crafted a terrific tale full of dark corners and dead-ends that leave the reader wondering what to believe. The result is a creepy collision between a psychological thriller and a very dark romance that has something for fans of either genre.” (Robert Dex Irish Examiner)
“Chloe Hooper’s second novel is a complex psychological thriller that draws on the rich literary history of madwomen in the attic, from Jane Eyre and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca...The Engagement is shot through with a deeply erotic charge without being explicity pornographic. It’s no Fifty Shades of Grey; its kicks, and kicks in the teeth, are much more subtle.” (The Independent (U.K.))
“A probing analysis of the psychology of sex...Hooper has constructed a modern fairy tale...compelling, at times disturbing.” (The Herald (U.K.))
“[The Engagement] deftly explores the power of money and property, romance and sex.” (Marie Claire (UK))
“A chilling, compulsive read.” (Fanny Blake Woman & Home (UK))
“[A] seductive plot.” (Sebastian Shakespeare Tatler (UK))
“This beautifully crafted psychological thriller really got under my skin...Hooper’s achievement is to make us frightened for Liese and, increasingly, frightened of her, too.” (A.N. Wilson Reader’s Digest (U.K.))
“A deftly written, tonally smooth, technically adroit and penetrating study of psychological extremity. . . . Hooper shrouds the narrative in an uneasiness whose source is everywhere and nowhere simultaneously.” (Geordie Williamson The Australian)
“There is much to admire in The Engagement . . . a novel that is artfully and coldly controlled, one that is also disturbingly anti-erotic.” (Peter Pierce The Age)
“Hooper's writing is beautifully clean, clear and candid . . . The novel raises interesting
questions about the psychology of desire and of memory.” (Katharine England The Advertiser (Australia))
“A gripping read.” (Maggie Linley Geelong Advertiser (Australia))
“A suspense thriller that trips the reader up every time answers seem about to appear . . . A gripping read. This haunting story provokes questions long after the final page.” (Sam Van Zweden Big Issue (Australia))
“To home in on the signs of the zeitgeist is the mark of a savvy writer. Even if unconscious, there's genius in nabbing a theme people have been gnawing away at deep in their collective psyches. Some writers, ahead of their time, are condemned to be appreciated posthumously. Others, hoping to cash in on a trend, can find themselves mired in cliché. But hitting the nail right on the head is a special gift. In this book Chloe Hopper displays it in spades . . . The Engagement is a psychological thriller . . . As well as creating an intriguing protagonist, Hooper writes with wit and aplomb.” (Sara Dowse Canberra Times (Australia))
“This psychological thriller is a taut, unnerving read, and Hooper's exquisitely rendered settings are the perfect stage for the tissue-like layers of awakening between victim and controller.” (Shari Tagliabue Townsville Bulletin (Australia))
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