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THE ENGAGEMENT by Chloe Hooper

THE ENGAGEMENT

By Chloe Hooper

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4165-6162-0
Publisher: Scribner

Erotic games turn menacing and surreal when a woman who role-plays as a prostitute spends a weekend on an isolated Australian estate with her regular “client,” and he tries to keep her there forever.

In Melbourne, working in real estate, Liese Campbell starts a game with Alexander, one of her property seekers: She offers him adventurous sex in the rental homes they view, and he pays her. Liese isn’t a prostitute, but she does owe money, and this fantasy apparently amuses them both. When Alexander offers Liese a fat fee for a weekend on his farm, she sees a chance to clear her debts. But once at Alexander’s vast, remote, decaying Victorian mansion, the game changes. He claims to believe she really is a nymphomaniac/whore; he even has letters and photos of proof. But he loves her anyway and proposes. Trapped, frightened and no longer certain what is real, Liese is unsure whether to play along or run for it. Much darker than the recent wave of S&M lite, Australian writer Hooper’s (Tall Man, 2009, etc.) novel seesaws between control and terror, honesty and insanity. Gothic twists and psychological turns lead through a hall of mirrors to a last opaque hairpin bend.

Unreliable narrators don’t come any more bewildering or unappealing than the couple in this clever, claustrophobic and disturbing chiller.