Jodi Picoult (2006) The Tenth Circle

The cover asks ‘Your daughter says she was raped. But the man she’s accused was her boyfriend. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?’ My inevitable answer is DON’T READ THIS BOOK!   The back pages tell me she is the UK’s number one fiction writer for woman.  I thought it was Barbara Cartland, but there is a kind of glory in not knowing. I admit it. I’m a book snob. I’ve tried writing. I should know better.  I give The Tenth Circle a few pages. They don’t really grab me, but the writing is good. Daniel Stone is the kind of guy Cartland knows so well. He’s handsome and rugged with a dark secret—he was once really a white Eskimo, which is the equivalent of a white hipster at a Harlem disco in the seventies. He had to escape to Alaska, which is kinda close to fictional Eskimo land. Daniel works as a graphic artist so that he can be a stay-at-home father and take care of his daughter Trixie and that is integrated into the narrative. His alter ego Wildclaw is a cartoon strip inserted between the narrators’ text, guided by Virgil,  as he descends into the ten circles of hell to get his daughter back.  It sounds kinda clunky, but it’s ok. Laura is an academic that teaches her students about ‘Paradise Lost’. Trixie’s mother and father take turn with Trixie as they narrate what happens after fourteen–year-old Trixie’s rape by her seventeen-year-old boyfriend Jason Underhhill. There is a complimenting factor in that David and Laura are estranged when this happens, because she is having an affair with one of her students. What Picoult does well is show how these tensions work through the narrative to make the sense of character stronger. What Picoult does brilliantly is her portrayal of a confused Trixie feeling isolated and alone in a small town with only one school and everybody knows each other and she’d do anything to get her boyfriend back. All these different strands weave together into a spellbinding narrative. A wildcard Wildclaw that works. 


I have read a few of Jodi Piccoult. They are well written but I think they are all in the same style. Moral dilemmas that rip families of honest decent folks to shreds. The one I liked best was where a girl is born simply because her mum and Dad want her as an organ donor for her older sister. She takes her family to court. It was a movie too bur I cannot remember the title (might have been My Sisters' Keeper) or how it ends         Elsie

She writes undeniably well and researches undeniably well. I can't bear her work. Perhaps it's a class thing. Money is never an issue and Court fees don't even crop up.