The Liars’ Gospel (2012): Naomi Alderman

★★★★

As a writer, Naomi Alderman is a veritable chameleon. First I read The Lessons, a tale of a fall from grace among the dreaming spires, in the manner of a modern Brideshead. Then it was The Power, a Margaret-Atwoodesque novel that veered between dystopia and sci-fi: a feminist, egalitarian cry of rage. And now, the third of her novels that I’ve read, The Liars’ Gospel is a raw and rugged historical novel. Brave, too, because it dares to confront one of the world’s seminal figures: in life, a controversial and provocative young preacher in 1st-century AD Judea; and, in death, the begetter of a cult that would become one of the dominant religions of the world. But who exactly was this teacher?

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The Power (2016): Naomi Alderman

★★★★

On one otherwise unremarkable day, something starts to happen that will change the world. One by one, fifteen-year-old girls all over the world discover a strange crackling sensation in their fingertips. One by one, they discover that their maturing bodies allow them to manifest sparks of electricity that can be thrown from hand to hand, transmitted through water and used as a weapon. Suddenly, women can harm or kill men with barely a second thought. The girls discover that, through their touch, they can activate the same power where it lies dormant in the bodies of older women. As society teeters on its foundations, a handful of very different women – and one man – find themselves at the heart of the storm, as they try to harness and understand this critical biological development.

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The Lessons: Naomi Alderman

★★★★

Last time I went to the library, this book was one of the spoils that I carried off: in retrospect, it’s odd that  I hadn’t read it before. Perhaps it’s simply that I wasn’t familiar with Alderman’s writing. Her first novel Disobedience had very good reviews but I’ve never got round to reading it; and I remember having picked up The Lessons somewhere before, but only for long enough to read the prologue, which didn’t do much for me. I wish I’d persevered.

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