Jun 23, 2010: Normally, I hate “chicklit” and “chick flicks”, anything with “chick” as a prefix. I’m not a fluffy baby poultry, and from what I have usually experienced in the “chick” genre usually involves solving all of life’s problems and useless partners with drinking cosmos and shopping with your BFFs, and you like, totally reach Girlvana! This may seem like hyperbole on my part, but I tend to find marathons of ‘Wallander’ more cheerful statements on society.
Thankfully, “In My Solitude” is not your typical “chicklit” – at least as regards to what I’ve been exposed to, or perhaps it was a misnomer – otherwise we wouldn’t be reading this review. It deals with Cecelia, a young housewife in 1962, struggling with a rapidly failing marriage and who is trying to come to terms with her life and expectations, and her decision to fly from her literal and metaphorical cages. The story is complete at 15 chapters long, and the first in the Secret Loft collection.
Cecelia is an understandable protagonist, if not always a very likable one, as we are shown the extent of the gilded cage that she has been living in. I would say that the era is portrayed accurately without over-indulging in tropes of the time, and Joe, Cecelia’s husband and antagonist, does not morph overnight into an evil monster. His characterisation is handled quite subtly, as he sinks from attentive to possessive. It’s very easy for such a depiction to slip into hyperbole, but Joe is a quiet monster, and people who behave in this way are very good at disguising their behaviours. He is a believable villain.
While it was nice at the end to see Cecelia find a resolution, it was a tad predictable. ‘In My Solitude’, while short, is very much a slow-burning and introspective story. If you enjoy the prose of Tsushima Yūko or other very introspective works, I think you’ll find joy here.
I would pre-warn the faint of heart that this story does deal with some squick – my catch-all term for themes or incidents which make people uncomfortable and squirm. There is a scene of sexual violence, and scenes of prolonged mental abuse as well, so if this upsets you, steer clear.