The New Woman by Charity Norman

Review published on January 24, 2016.

As the blurb pretty much describes Luke’s dilemma, it is not a spoiler to state that this is a book about gender dysphoria. I had seen the book advertised but can’t say I was particularly drawn to it, however I received a copy from Real Readers to review so the decision was taken out of my hands. All I can say is, I was so glad it was.

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Despite my initial misgivings I was drawn in straight away and couldn’t put it down. After 55 years Luke decides that enough is enough. Despite being married for 30 years with a grown up son and daughter, he has always hidden the fact that inside he has felt he was a woman. While he loves his wife and his family, he feels incomplete and as he knows ‘coming out’ would hold them up to ridicule and destroy what he has, he decides to commit suicide.

However he confides this to a random stranger on a train who suggests he thinks again. For whatever reason he does and instead decides to bear all to his family. The book then follows Luke’s journey from Luke to Lucia with alternating chapters giving the viewpoints of his distraught wife, his horrified and unsympathetic son and his shocked but sympathetic daughter.

It is a story well told, that really gets to the heart of gender dysphoria and how it must feel to live your life in a body that you feel doesn’t belong to you. I was totally engaged with the plot and really rooting for things to work out for Luke, and his family. As well as realistically portraying a family in crisis it also highlighted the ignorance and prejudice that can be found in our society despite our alleged sexual enlightenment.

As to whether Luke and his family can resolve their differences I urge you to read this book and find out for yourself. This is a thought provoking read and would make an ideal book for reading groups as it raises so many topics for discussion. I cannot recommend it highly enough, it was a brilliant read.

Jill Doyle

The New Woman by Charity Norman
Allen & Unwin pbk July 2015

A Real Reader review

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