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Fruit of the Dead: A Novel by Rachel Lyon
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Fruit of the Dead: A Novel (original 2024; edition 2024)

by Rachel Lyon (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
443575,877 (3.25)5
An electric contemporary reimagining of the myth of Persephone and Demeter set over the course of one summer on a lush private island, about addiction and sex, family and independence, and who holds the power in a modern underworld. Camp counselor Cory Ansel, eighteen and aimless, afraid to face her high-strung single mother in New York, is no longer sure where home is when the father of one of her campers offers an alternative. The CEO of a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company, Rolo Picazo is middle-aged, divorced, magnetic. He is also intoxicated by Cory. When Rolo proffers a childcare job (and an NDA), Cory quiets an internal warning and allows herself to be ferried to his private island. Plied with luxury and opiates manufactured by his company, she continues to tell herself she's in charge. Her mother, Emer, head of a teetering agricultural NGO, senses otherwise. With her daughter seemingly vanished, Emer crosses land and sea to heed a cry for help she alone is convinced she hears. Alternating between the two women's perspectives, Rachel Lyon's Fruit of the Dead incorporates its mythic inspiration with a light touch and devastating precision. The result is a tale that explores love, control, obliteration, and America's own late capitalist mythos. Lyon's reinvention of Persephone and Demeter's story makes for a haunting and ecstatic novel that vibrates with lush abandon. Readers will not soon forget it.… (more)
Member:Eavans
Title:Fruit of the Dead: A Novel
Authors:Rachel Lyon (Author)
Info:Scribner (2024), 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Read, Read but unowned
Rating:*1/2
Tags:contemporary, sex, women

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Fruit of the Dead: A Novel by Rachel Lyon (2024)

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*1.5

Written to sell, and not in a good way. So average it was insulting, the book lacks a compelling creative force and relies on insipid, cliche scenarios without the meat of literary craft that could have elevated it to something awesome. I can do weird, experimental prose (none of the POV or dialogue changes really bothered me), and I understand what the author was going for, but was it successful? What did it add, exactly? Overall, this is an artistically shallow, boring, and unremarkable contemporary overhaul of a classic that did not need redoing.

If you want a visceral read about bad mother/daughter relationships and groomed girls, just stick to Lolita, my god!!! ( )
  Eavans | Apr 24, 2024 |
18 year old Cory has failed to get into college so has decided to work at a summer camp before making decisions about her future. At the end of the contract one of the parents offers her a job as a nanny. He's rich, powerful and paranoid about security so Cory signs an NDA and is whisked off to a private island. There she is kept in luxury and fed opiates whilst pressure is placed on her and she is not able to contact home. Cory's mother Emer is convinced her daughter is in danger and searches the Eastern seaboard whilst her professional life falls apart in her absence.
This is a very powerful retelling of the story of Persephone but with a really modern take. Hades is the CEO of a pharmaceutical company who feeds his captive with addictive drugs. Persephone is a vulnerable girl, already the victim of sexual assault, and Demeter is the Chair of an NGO trying to stop world hunger. All very 21st century and with '#me too' and a little hint of Epstein it's a potent mix. The plot struggles in places but I devored it in a few hours. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Apr 5, 2024 |
Cody had a not-great senior year of high school, and the aftermath of that is that she wasn't accepted to any colleges. She did manage to get a summer job as a junior camp counselor at the camp she's spent every summer at, which is good, but when camp wraps up, she's not looking forward to returning home. Then, the father of one of her charges makes her the offer of a job as babysitter to his two kids for the rest of the summer, until they are returned to their mother. The job is on his private island, where there's no cell phone service, and she has to decide immediately and sign an NDA, but she decides to take the job.

Emer isn't having a great time, either, discovering on a trip to China, that the new rice varietal that the non-profit she heads has failed, leaving the farmers they'd enticed with promises of higher yields, left destitute. Now she's fighting to keep the non-profit afloat, to find a solution, and also getting a few vague texts from her daughter about an internship for an unspecified businessman, but receiving no answer to her own calls and texts. She decides that despite the turmoil at her workplace, she has no choice but to go find her daughter.

This is loosely structured on the story of Demeter and Persephone, and it's a lot of fun to see the elements of the myth arising in different guises. There are two entertwined stories here; a single mother's search for her daughter and the story of a very young woman who isn't sure what she wants to do with the next few years, let alone her life and how she feels her way towards maturity while existing in a place designed to thwart thought and reason.

Lyon writes with nuance and understanding from both the viewpoint of a directionless young woman and her over-extended mother, creating two characters in conflict but who also deeply love each other. She also manages to make Emer's fear for her daughter as she learns where she is and who she is with compelling and urgent while also showing Cory as curious and eager to be included in with the grown-ups. Lyon is juggling two different stories here and she does so in a way that makes both fascinating and real. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Jan 25, 2024 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rachel Lyonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Monahan, MathCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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An electric contemporary reimagining of the myth of Persephone and Demeter set over the course of one summer on a lush private island, about addiction and sex, family and independence, and who holds the power in a modern underworld. Camp counselor Cory Ansel, eighteen and aimless, afraid to face her high-strung single mother in New York, is no longer sure where home is when the father of one of her campers offers an alternative. The CEO of a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company, Rolo Picazo is middle-aged, divorced, magnetic. He is also intoxicated by Cory. When Rolo proffers a childcare job (and an NDA), Cory quiets an internal warning and allows herself to be ferried to his private island. Plied with luxury and opiates manufactured by his company, she continues to tell herself she's in charge. Her mother, Emer, head of a teetering agricultural NGO, senses otherwise. With her daughter seemingly vanished, Emer crosses land and sea to heed a cry for help she alone is convinced she hears. Alternating between the two women's perspectives, Rachel Lyon's Fruit of the Dead incorporates its mythic inspiration with a light touch and devastating precision. The result is a tale that explores love, control, obliteration, and America's own late capitalist mythos. Lyon's reinvention of Persephone and Demeter's story makes for a haunting and ecstatic novel that vibrates with lush abandon. Readers will not soon forget it.

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