Short version review: Good book. Well-written. Go out and buy it.
Long version review:
I’ve recently done a blog about where erotic fiction authors get their ideas from. If you can find it on the net, I’d encourage you to search it out and enjoy it. I’m typically humorous in the blog and some of the things I say, although comically absurd, contain an existentialist germ of truth. However, I could have saved myself the time from writing that blog and directed readers to Carrie Williams’ excellent new novel, The Apprentice.
The Apprentice charts Genevieve’s story as personal assistant to a renowned author. Stated so baldly it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a story of constant couplings and saucy sexiness. The phrase, “as sexy as a writer” is not one that will become a cliché through its constant overuse. However, The Apprentice comes from the highly-acclaimed Black Lace imprint and Carrie Williams is an author of repute with titles such as The Blue Guide and Chilli Heat to her credit. Consequently, it goes without saying that this is a very hot read.
Genevieve applies for a job as a writer’s assistant and she is successful in her application. She finds herself working for the legendary Anne Tournier and it seems like a match made in heaven. Genevieve is an ardent fan of Anne’s work and desperately needs the job. Anne, without wanting to give too much away, desperately needs Genevieve.
The Apprentice is a cleverly told story. Writing about writers is never easy because, whilst all we authors want to make writers look glamorous and exciting, the truth is that sitting in a grubby office and making up stories is hard to portray as anything other than a mental health issue. Nevertheless, Carrie Williams manages this trick with aplomb and Anne Tournier comes across as coolly exciting and consistently glamorous.
What about the sex? I hear you ask. Well, it’s kind of you to offer, but we’re talking about this book, aren’t we?
Carrie Williams conveys the essence of passion and sexuality with subtle power. Erotic fiction remains one of the most potent genres of writing because, when executed efficiently, it can produce the strongest physical reactions from reading any literary form. Writing about a writer of erotic fiction (which Carrie Williams has so cleverly done) demands that the eroticism presented on the page should be so vivid it is almost tangible. Fortunately, the erotic element of this story is presented with lucid precision and exquisite detail. Genevieve’s assignations come across as realistic but, by necessity for the story’s main motif, the reader’s position can sometimes be perceived as voyeuristic. At times this can almost be perceived as a technique that distances the reader from the eroticism. However, on a second reading, most people will understand that this is the most appropriate way for the sexual elements of the story to be presented.
I think the factor I found most enjoyable about this novel was, even though it’s an erotic novel that has come from Black Lace, Carrie Williams has been bold enough to put the story first and allow the sex to take a natural subordinate position to the plot. Admittedly, the prologue is explicit and arousing: but it also raises enough questions to have readers intrigued and hankering to know what is going on in the story. The first chapter, although it’s only a mere seven pages, simply alludes to the frisson of sexual explicitness that will develop through the story.
In our modern world of McFiction and on-demand-satisfaction, the fact that Carrie Williams takes the time to patiently build to her story’s satisfying peaks is a pleasing contrast against many of the in-your-face and rush-to-the-bush stories that currently masquerade as erotic fiction.
So, it’s a book about a woman who writes saucy stories and hires an assistant. It’s explicit, erotic and all of this carried by a very compelling storyline. I’d tell you more but I’m in danger of spoiling the plot or giving away the denouement. If you like well-written erotic fiction that is intelligent, arousing and engaging, then The Apprentice should make your have-to-have list for 2009. To reiterate what I said in the short review:Good book. Well-written. Go out and buy it.