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Wild Game Reviews

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

Wild Game

My Mother, Her Lover, and Me

Adrienne Brodeur

3.67 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Houghton Mifflin
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication date: 15 Oct 2019
ISBN: 9781328519030

Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It's a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were to us.

4 stars out of 5
Elizabeth Lowry
24 Jan 2020

" a supremely civilised, and so necessarily tame, attempt at making sense of the horror at the heart of this particular mother-daughter relationship"

As Brodeur leaves for college, Malabar warns her: “Don’t ever forget that you and I are two halves of one whole.” Wild Game, in other words, is a story of child abuse, though it’s marketed (down to the Lolita-ish image of a halter-topped pubescent girl on its cover) as a tale of wayward romance, and the complex “nature of family”. Make no mistake: it’s infinitely darker than that, though the darkness is tamped down under a polished veneer. The Cordon Bleu recipes and the cocktail rituals of Malabar’s moneyed East Coast set belie a world marked by casual violence and grotesque consumption – of food, of alcohol and of people.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Kate Saunders
11 Jan 2020

"a memoir that reads like a novel"

Wild Game is a memoir that reads like a novel. Brodeur’s writing is elegant — she is particularly good at describing the sights, sounds and smells of Cape Cod, with its sand dunes and fishing boats, and its perpetual harvest of clams and lobsters. I was strongly reminded of LP Hartley’s classic novel The Go-Between; both explore the feelings of a child caught in the complicated mesh of an adult love affair.

3 stars out of 5
Rachel Cooke
7 Jan 2020

"A daughter’s complicity in her mother’s secret adulterous affair is gruesomely fascinating"

All this is fascinating – at times, gruesomely so. I found myself quite mesmerised by Malabar; like some desperate old actress, she’s permanently ready for her closeup.

But Brodeur’s memoir is somehow a lot less gripping than it should be. Why? At first, I thought this was down to her writing. Combine her travel writerly descriptions of Cape Cod with her lusciously precise accounts of her mother’s cooking – “Malabar lowered the artfully arranged pre-dinner offerings: paper-thin slices of ruby-red venison carpaccio, a bowl of wrinkled and briny olives, and a dish of her ethereally smooth venison paté” – and what you have is memoir as it might appear in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop: varnished rather than visceral, more complacent than searching. “I learned to become a friend to myself,” she writes at one point, which, quite apart from being a cliche of self-help, seemed to me to be not much of a weapon in the war for independence from her mother.