Sleeping in the car is cramped.
–Margaret Atwood - The heart goes last - c.2015
Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their ‘Alternates,’ the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over.
I’m not quite sure what to say about this book. It was vaguely interesting, plotwise. But the characters… I just couldn’t feel anything for any of them. And characters are usually what draw me in to a book, what make it really work for me. Here I just wasn’t that bothered by what happened to Charmaine and Stan.
Also, is this really married couples are like? I mean, why do these people stay together if they don’t want to?1 Isn’t it better to divorce someone than think about murdering them, let alone actually do the deed?2 and are men really that driven sex. Stan, and any other male we meet in the book, is a jerk. An utter jerk who seems to only really think about sex and how could it be better, and well I suppose at least it isn’t worse. Is this supposed to be humour?
I don’t know. I found it a very depressing read. Even without all the prison-for-profit and messing with people’s brains. Charmaine and Stan are just so sad and depressing, in a low level mundane sort of way.
And this post went a lot more negative than I thought it would, but I guess that’s what The Heart Goes Last inspired in me.