It took me a while to warm up to Susan Gloss’s The Curiosities. There are five alternating perspectives in this novel, and I needed to get my bearings. Once I got to know each character, though, I had trouble putting the book down.
I think it’s tricky to manage so many different voices, but it’s handled well here. I did feel like I got to know some of them better than others, but I wasn’t left feeling like anyone had been left behind. That said, Nell, Annie, and Betsy really stood out the most for me.
Annie is a second-wave feminist, and her cissexism does come through a couple times—most notably in a “every eligible citizen with a vagina needs to vote” comment she makes (come on, Annie, catch up! genitals ≠ gender). She can come across a bit gruff, but she’s also thoughtful and kind. I have the feeling if she’d been challenged on that (she wasn’t), she would have listened, cared, and tried to do better. The project she’s working on is incredible, albeit discomforting, and its theme is one that runs through the entire book in various forms.
Betsy’s feminism, on the other hand, was so interesting to me. She lived during a time when it was very uncommon for women to make the choices she made. She seemed caught between two worlds, in some ways. I liked seeing how she handled that.
Huge content warning for anyone who’s experienced infertility, miscarriage, premature birth, and especially infant loss. There are a few passages that are very difficult to read. If you’ve dealt with any of those situations and your emotions are raw … I’d feel bad not giving you a heads up. These passages are handled with the utmost tenderness and sensitivity, and are probably some of the most beautiful parts of the novel.
The ending was perfect. I was reading and kept thinking—and I bet any reader who’s dealt with infertility thought the same thing—oh no, please don’t end it the way I think you’re going to end it, it’ll be so cliche and ruin everything. And props to Susan Gloss, she didn’t. She didn’t even do the opposite. I was pleasantly surprised and yeah, it was perfect.
I loved the author’s smooth, easy writing style and the way I felt for each of the characters, no matter how wise (or not) their decisions were along the way. It was also truly delightful how there were all these little threads throughout the book that seemed like interesting tidbits, not much more. But then later on, I’d discover they’re actually a deeper layer of the story. If you’re into contemporary women’s fiction with substantial themes, The Curiosities is definitely for you.Thanks to TLC Book Tours and to William Morrow for the opportunity to read and review this book! Check out what other readers have to say about The Curiosities by visiting other stops on the tour.