This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Susan Lobban
To those around him Luke Livingstone has it all, but unbeknownst to anyone he has been living a lie his whole life. He cannot live with it any longer, so the letters to his loved ones have been written and when they read them he will no longer be around. However a stranger on a train makes him realise that his drastic plan is not the only way.
Eilish was not expecting Luke back that night, so is delighted when he returns home. That delight turns to despair in a blink of an eye. Luke’s confession that he has always felt like he was born into the wrong gender comes out of the blue and makes Eilish question her whole marriage. Looking back over 30 years did she ignore the signs? Was her marriage just a front?
Overnight the Livingstone family are ripped apart. This exact reaction was expected but it doesn’t make it any easier. Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother and Son are all roles that Luke relishes but by choosing to live as a woman they all could potentially be lost forever.
The New Woman starts just as Luke Livingstone’s life is about to end. He has been keeping a part of himself hidden for as long as he can remember. A chance encounter with an old lady full of advice saves Luke from ending his life but then when he reveals all to his wife of 30 years his life is effectively over anyway. Luke is no more and instead Lucia tentatively emerges from the shadows.
You would need to have been living under a rock not to have heard about Caitlyn Jenner or Laverne Cox, but personally I have never really thought much about how long they may have struggled before making a life altering decision. Although Luke Livingstone is fictional, there is no doubt that his years of turmoil and inner struggle are not. Charity Norman’s depiction of a little boy who does not understand why he cannot be just like his girl best friend is truly heartbreaking. Being privy to little Luke’s private thoughts was completely eye-opening and I was ashamed to realize none of it had occurred to me previously. Even something as simple as cutting your son’s hair can fill a child with dread when all they want is to have flowing locks. Over the years that follow Luke has no choice to conform but his true feelings never leaves him and his persona as a result is very guarded and closed off.
Luke’s confession is a bolt out of the blue for his wife and children and their first instinct is to push him away. Everyone needs their own breathing space to process the revelations and as Luke starts to embrace becoming Lucia we follow the rest of his family as they wrestle with their feelings. Family life will never be the same again and watching the drama unfold throughout the chapters was riveting. I had everything crossed that Lucia would once more be welcomed back into the heart of the family where he belonged.
The New Woman is an intricate character study where the protagonist literally transforms before the readers eyes. This book provides an important insight into a world few can comprehend. It has certainly changed my perceptions and that will stay with me for a long time to come.