Newest Review: ... of Brendan and Sherilyns family and the defendants themselves. This is obviously not an original one of doing this I've seen it use... more
The Odd Couple
Monster Love - Carol Topolski
Member Name: wigglylittleworm
Monster Love - Carol Topolski
Advantages: attempts to look at events from a new perspective
Disadvantages: Doesn't explain why
Brendan and Linda Gutteridge are both making their way in the world after feeling unloved as children. They meet at work and instantly feel like they have found their soul mates and embark on an intense relationship. They marry and Sherilyn (as Linda prefers to call herself) soon falls pregnant. The pregnancy and birth of a healthy daughter should be a happy time in a young couples life but this pair had never planned to have children going as far as Brendan having a vasectomy in a bid to make sure there were no surprises.
They see Samantha or "The Girl" as they call her as an inconvenience and their indifference to her soon turns to neglect. A concerned neighbour alerts social services to the fact that Samantha has not been seen for some time but she uncovers nothing amiss. It is only when the police are called that a gruesome discovery is made but it is too late for the little girl who has met a horrible end. What could turn a seemingly perfect couple into the type of people who could callously allow their daughter to die?
Monster Love, like so many modern books, is written in many different voices and I found the fact that so many people are telling their own version of the story to be off-putting. The book opens with a neighbour describing the family's life before Samantha died and goes through the trial to the aftermath. Each person furthers the chronology of the story and the people narrating the story include family members, professionals, jurors and the couple themselves.
Carol Toposlski is a practicing psychoanalyst so has more experience than most of us at delving into the minds of others and learning about dark secrets but I still did not feel that the book adequately explained how or why Samantha died. The childhood of both Brendan and Sherilyn is explored and while both had some painful events in their childhoods there was nowhere like the kind of abuse or brutality than you would expect from a callous child killer. The book did explore the relationship between Brendan and Sherilyn, the type of obsessive love where nobody else has a look in, not even their own child but I found the relationship unconvincing.
We are used to seeing child killers as monsters and Carol Toposlki attempts to show the human beings behind the headlines. It is a really interesting perspective to take on the subject of child abuse as we are used to hearing the voices of the victims and their families while anything a killer has to say is ignored. However I found that the book fell short of answering the question of why the couple acted in the way that they did, the couple themselves are fairly unsympathetic people as you can imagine and not easy to empathise with and the fact that they were so one dimensional did not help.
Overall "Monster Love" was a reasonably good read, although the subject matter was sometimes unpleasant most of the book focused on the trial so was not too gritty. It's a book that is easy to read with short chapters, just don't expect brilliance from it.
Summary: A rather strange book