Trigger warning: The novella featured in this post contains content relating to rape and sexual abuse.
I found myself ‘without book’ the other night, I’d finished all my current reads, couldn’t sleep and felt too intimidated to pick up a book with any heft from my shelf. I happened upon ‘Peach’ by Emma Glass, although only just, running my finger along the spines on my shelf it so easily could have slipped past, being a story told in less than 100 pages.
It felt quite ironic that in trying to avoid a book with heft I had then gone and picked up one that is likely to have knocked me for six than I can imagine any other novel is likely to this year. I read the whole thing in one sitting and was completely blindsided. The last time I can remember a similar reading experience was with the shock I felt finishing ‘A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing’ by Eimear McBride.
I will be reading ‘Peach’ again, without a shadow of a doubt, I think I will gain much more from a second reading. I may be doing you a disservice talking about it after the initial ‘hit’ but on the other hand my feelings towards it will never be this fresh again.
We meet Peach, a young woman currently attending college, making her way home one night after she has been attacked and raped. The book then follows her trying to absorb the shock of what has happened. Peach now lives in a hazy, lonely ‘post’ world where only she carries what has happened to her, although sometimes her pain seems to imprint itself on her skin, calling out for somebody to help her. The confusion and fear she feels is portrayed to us in surreal way, a real sensory overload. Peach describes those she encounters as if they are made up of different food stuffs, textures and smells all heightened to her now.
The language is raw and visceral. In the opening pages we find Peach alone in her bedroom using thread and needle to sew up the bloody tear that is sending pain through her body. At points I felt like I was reading poetry, the lyrical nature, words rolling one after the other. The writing style is so vivid, truncated sentences with each word chosen to directly express to the reader the feeling of that moment. I read part of the book aloud, it seemed right as with Glass invoking every sense within Peach so powerfully I also wanted to engage my senses, hear those words, the shape of them and the feeling they had in my mouth.
The time I spent with Peach was something like a dream, the heady, other worldly place she now seems to exist in, to me feeling very much like a time when life has so suddenly and dramatically changed for you that you do find yourself seeing through different eyes and experiencing your body anew.
This is strong stuff and like ‘A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing’ I suspect won’t be for all readers, but I found it bold, beautifully written and boundary pushing. I think it is good to be challenged and encounter art that is so powerful it is lodged firmly in your mind to be thought about for days and weeks after encountering it.
Now excuse me while I go and read ‘Peach’ for the second time in two days.
Peach by Emma Glass £12.99 (Bloomsbury Circus)