In brief: Nothing is going to plan in Violet’s life until she meets the glamourous Lottie and Simon. Suddenly, everything is sorted – but for how long?
The good: It’s honest about everything.
The not-so-good: The ending was a little too neat for me.
Why I chose it: Sounded interesting. Thanks to Hachette for the copy.
Publisher: Sphere (Hachette)
Setting: Mainly London, England
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Insatiable is blunt, raw and honest. It’s a long time since I’ve read a novel that did not hold anything back (and I mean anything). It’s a warts and all look at a lost young woman who gets sucked into a life of glamour, money and debauchery and considers trading off her identity to be adored briefly.
Violet is stuck in a job she doesn’t really like, miserable after calling off her wedding and losing her best friend in the process. She’s barely living on the money she earns and life is just one big mess. So when she meets the glamourous Lottie, Violet idolises her. And what’s even better is that Lottie seems to offer a fancy new job and friendship. Almost immediately it becomes more than that, with Violet entering into a threesome with Lottie and her husband Simon. Then there’s the parties with like minded friends. Violet is the new toy for these couples and for some time, everyone is happy. Violet is loved, coddled, fed and adored. There’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon that she’s not a terrible mess. Then things start going bad as jealousy rears its head on a holiday and Violet sees a side of Lottie and Simon that isn’t pure fun. One of Violet’s new friends suggests that this isn’t an equal relationship, but she’s a plaything in a toxic relationship. Will Violet see the signs herself or will she give up her individuality to belong to someone else?
Insatiable contains a lot of sex – this is not the novel for the prudish. Sex is used to forget and to wield power over others, admonish them and to choose favourites. Violet is quite naïve and willing to overlook this (or maybe she just doesn’t even notice) initially, but it’s easy for the reader to see the manipulation that Lottie and Simon use Violet for. While some might find Violet annoying due to her need for love and recognition, I didn’t. She openly describes herself as a complete mess and there was always an element of rationality to the choices she made, however bad. When Violet starts to make amends for her past behaviour, it seems like part of her character arc rather than something forced. Buchanan also takes the heavier content that Violet finds herself in (sexual assault, bulimia and the manipulation by Lottie, Simon and Max) and handles it well. It’s not tawdry or glossed over, but a real part of the plot with realistic reactions by Violet. Buchanan also knows when to change gears – just when you think you couldn’t handle another group sex scene; she starts to delve into Violet’s past mistakes and her attempts to fix the past.
Overall, this was a millennial novel that matches gritty reality with dreams come true and then finding it out it wasn’t what it seems. It’s a bold debut that stands above many twenty-somethings-feel-lost novels.