A disturbing portrait of a modern American family
Jenny Tinkley lives to mother her two complicated sons and prop up her technology obsessive husband Hank, who has installed gadgets, cameras and voice recognition devices in their smart house. He tells her it's all designed to help her, but she is convinced their home is judging her- reminding her to load the laundry, buy milk, do better- and she becomes paranoid that she's being spied upon by the white goods. When she hears of an outreach opportunity at her church (where worshippers are encouraged to confess their sins via mobile phone), she feels that hand-writing letters to John, inmate 6587 at Flainton Correctional Facility, will be an antidote to her high-tech isolation, and a kindness to someone who is perhaps lonelier than herself. And Hank needn't know.
Letter by letter John pinches Jenny awake from the marshmallow numbness of her life. In their exchanges she expresses tenderness, unexpected affection. Constantly under surveillance, their letters chart a secret rebellion, a bid for freedom. But Jenny is becoming curiously dependent on the sweet orange glue that seals John's envelopes and their lives begin to converge with toxic consequences.
LOVE ORANGE throws open the blinds of American life, showing a family facing up to the modern age, from the ascendancy of technology, the predicaments of masculinity, the pathologising of children, the epidemic of opioid addiction and the tyranny of the WhatsApp Gods. The first novel by the acclaimed translator is a comic cocktail, an exuberant skewering of contemporary anxieties and prejudices.
Imagine Richard Yates becoming fascinated by Donald Antrim before writing Revolutionary Road and you'll have some idea of Love Orange. At turns funny, discomfiting, and darkly harrowing, Randall's debut is real life inscribed upon the page. The classic American family of countless TV dramas and comedies is here fractured against the hard fulcrum of the current age. One of the most satisfying novels you will read this year. This book rules.
'In Love Orange we see the American nuclear family in meltdown, a phenomenon Natasha Randall describes with wisdom, wit, and a lot of heart. I enjoyed every minute of it' Chris Power, author of Mothers