Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27)
Adrienne Brodeur and her mother had “an exceptionally complicated” relationship, said Marion Winik in The Washington Post. When Adrienne was 14, her mother swore her to secrecy immediately after revealing to her during a summer on Cape Cod that she had just begun an affair with her husband’s married best friend. Adrienne’s beloved stepfather was one of the dupes, and the deception perpetuated by the other three lasted for years, warping the author’s life up through and including her first marriage. But Brodeur never depicts her mother as cruel for burdening her with role of enabler and accomplice. This stylish page-turner “manages to be both elegant and trashy at the same time, elevating 40-year-old gossip to an art form.”
“Wild Game reads very much like a novel,” said Ilana Masad in NPR.org. Adrienne’s mother, Malabar, was a trained chef and a prominent food writer, her lover was a hunter who collaborated with her on a never-completed cookbook for wild game, and Brodeur employs “vivid sensual detail” to re-create each early scene from her own teenage perspective. Initially, she was thrilled by her mother’s elation and thrilled to have been chosen as her mother’s closest confidante. But that didn’t last. Her complicity triggered guilt and depression long before she realized that her mother had taken advantage of her trust.
The complications don’t end there, said Emily Rapp Black in The New York Times. Brodeur eventually marries the son of her mother’s lover, that union fails, and she falls into a deep depression before she starts to find her way toward true independence from her mother. The happy moments to come prove to be “some of the most poignant,” yet the narrative tension in this “gorgeously written and deeply insightful” book never slackens. “It’s one you’ll likely read in a single, delicious sitting.” ■