Let me just talk about my love of Alice Hoffman’s novels here. Some spoilers for Second Nature, which I am about halfway through right now, and for some of her other novels.
I just love how Hoffman has this “veneer of suburban/rural goodness” going on in her work, where everything, on the surface at least, is picturesque and beautiful. Nothing seems amiss.
But right below the surface of that there is whole levels of messed up stuff going on. Really gruesome and even grotesque things. People casting love potions which basically destroy lives. Women losing their minds over lust and desire and cutting themselves. Schoolboys who kill the irritating outsider who has upset their world. People who get hit by lightening and survive and have to grapple with that. Etc.
In Second Nature, the two main characters fall in love, and you can tell they desire each other. But it takes some months for them to consummate that desire. Some months and a dead cat with a slit throat. The main characters end up having sex in the yard, with the cat’s blood all over their hands and clothes. It’s incredibly savage, incredibly erotic, and messed up if you dwell on it. But it’s perfect too. It works for the characters. And it’s Alice Hoffman through and through.
It’s one of my favorite things about her writing. She is not afraid to go to places that are disquieting and unsettling.