Book Review: The Love of a Bad Man, by Laura Elizabeth Woollett




The night is big and dirty and my legs too short to carry me far, but it’s the least I can do to make him chase after me.


We have an inherent interest in women who do bad things in our society. It seems horrific - that women could be a part of terrible crimes against other women, younger women and children. But our collective history is riddled with such stories and the media latches onto their details tightly, and we as an audience listen intently, looking for meaning and reason in their actions.


I saw Woollett speak as part of Perth Writers Festival earlier this year and her collection immediately grabbed my attention (probably the same part of my attention that insisted I study criminology at university). One of the things I love about this collection is that all the characters are based on real people. Real crimes, real actions. What Woollett does with great success is delve deeply into empathy for the characters - she offers her own fictional meaning and reason behind their actions - and she delivers. Her characters get under your skin (I found myself googling for more details of their lives and crimes) but in her telling she offers a piece of humanness to them that is entirely relatable.


All linked with male counterparts, she explores how the idea of love, the dark side of love, compelled them to do the bidding of those her female protagonists find themselves attached to. The interesting thing is she does this without offering excuse or justification for their actions. She highlights clearly the fact that the characters knew what they doing, knew what their lovers were doing, and still played their role. Woollett depicts the voices of these women with care, they are well thought out and she does well to ensure their individualism is also brought out. Her characters scan the globe, time and notoriety, and she does an excellent job of ensuring this is captured in each of her stories.


The Love of a Bad Man offers a compelling and engrossing collection of fascinating and flawed women. Woollett is a refreshing author and I’m already looking forward to her next piece of work.


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Have you read Woollett's work? I'd love to know your thoughts! You can connect with me on Goodreads.

Copyright © 2020 Elaine Mead | Coffee&Books

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