Red Clocks is a hard-hitting, unapologetically feminist novel with the damning question of “What is a woman for?” at its heart.
Before I start this book review, I just want to explain why I’ve been gone for a LONG bloody time: longer than a whole year. 2018 was not my finest year, I was ill for most of it and was trying desperately to convince myself I wasn’t but that just made me crash harder.
Everything I loved doing, including reading and writing suffered, I felt like I just didn’t enjoy anything anymore. Honestly, I barely read last year, apart from books for work, which if you know me, is just unheard of. Thank you so much for sticking with me! OKAY, ENOUGH RAMBLING.
Onwards with the review!
Red Clocks is the disturbingly close-to-reality story of 5 very different women who reside in a sleepy, green Oregon town where abortion is illegal and where femininity is questioned.
The Biographer: The novel opens with Ro a biographer, who scribes the story of the Polar Explorer, and History teacher. Ro is desperate to conceive a child on her own terms; she is undergoing IVF treatment and attempting to adopt, shock horror, alone sans a man. But, there’s a problem, according to the new ‘it takes two’ laws single women are not considered fit parents and Ro’s attempts to cure her loneliness with a new baby seem increasingly less likely to come to fruition.
The Daughter: Mattie is a 16 year old whose world has been turned upside down. She is pregnant, she is in despair and she does not want her baby. Mattie knows that her adoptive parents, who are keen supporters of the new laws would never understand her reasoning behind wanting an abortion but she would go to any lengths to reclaim her body – the laws be damned.
The Mother: Sue is a mother on the cusp of ruin. Her husband is unaffectionate and not the man she married, her children take up all her time and her energy and her seemingly perfect suburban life is anything but. She has long since given up her hopes of being a hard-nosed lawyer to raise her children and care for her family – but she is coming to question, is being a mother all she is for?
The Mender: Gin is an unorthodox gynaecologist who lives in the forest, practicing her herbal remedies in the peaceful quiet of her woodland home. She is a source of support, fear and mistrust for the other women of her town, regardless of her pure intentions she is heralded as a lawless witch.
Together these women’s friendships, adversities, jealousy, fears, dreams and mistreatments represent the variety of the female experience – from the mundane realities of motherhood to the life-altering feeling of inadequacy that comes with not being about to give birth naturally.
I loved this book, the characters felt believable and complex (especially Gin, she is an absolute badass), the setting atmospheric and, aptly, suffocating. I really enjoyed that the women in this novel attempted to direct their own lives, and tell their own stories, regardless of the unjust society they lived in. I highly, highly recommend this standout piece of contemporary feminist literature to EVERYONE.
Read if you loved: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Power by Naomi Alderman or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
To watch the my YouTube review of Red Clocks, if you fancy, click here!
Have any of you lovely people read Red Clocks? If so what did you think of it? Have you read any stand-out feminist dystopian novels, I’m always after more recommendations to add to my extensive TBR!