“Queer folk, the Henrys.”
Adelaide Henry is “profoundly lonely,” growing up without siblings, with older parents that spurned the world around them. They had their reasons. And yet, in the opening chapter, as I see Adelaide pour kerosene over both of their lifeless forms and burn them, along with their house, I wonder…were they bad enough to deserve this?
But nothing is as it seems, and this is part of the magical spell that Victor LaValle weaves into this kickass novel, Lone Women. By the time I understand the why and the who and the what, I feel an intimate connection to Adelaide, as if I may be the only one trusted with her secrets.
My thanks go to Net Galley and Random House for the review copy. This is one of the finest novels to be published in 2023, and you should get it and read it.
Adelaide flees the California farm where she’s lived all of her life, and buys a homestead in Montana. Almost everything about her life changes; from the warmth of California to the frigid winters of the Northern Rockies, from life with her parents to one lived alone, and from an all-Black community to one that is almost entirely Caucasian. She brings very little with her, only what she can carry, but she is curiously possessive of her extremely heavy trunk, and though I initially assume that she keeps something of great monetary value inside it, I soon realize that isn’t it. My early notes ask the same thing over and again: “What is in that trunk?”
From there, our story unfolds and I can’t stop turning the pages. I’ve never read a novel of any genre that’s like this one, and I’m guessing that you haven’t, either.
Do yourself a favor. Don’t read the synopsis. Go into it blind. It’s a lot more fun if you learn of the characters and events at the times the author intends.
There’s a powerful message in play, but the story is so adroitly delivered that it never feels like a polemic.
I won’t say more, because I don’t want to ruin it for you, but believe me, the next time LaValle publishes a novel, I will be first in line to read it. Highly recommended, especially to feminists.