Gwendoline Riley – First Love

First Love



I have to admit that books about domestic violence intrigue me, obviously I am totally against domestic violence but what puzzles me is the psychology of the abused and the abuser. At first I used to think that books about domestic abuse – Emma Donoghue’s Room and Roddy Doyle’s , The Woman who Walked into Doors, just to name two examples were grotesque exaggerations but a social worker I know has told me, that abusers do have larger than life characteristics, mainly to compensate for the limited emotional range that they have.

Which brings us to First Love.

This short novel is about domestic abuse. Neve is a victim and throughout the book we discover that her mother was a victim as well. Despite my simplistic explanation, First Love deals with the intricacies of the abused and the abuser. Neve’s is psychologically bullied by her husband and yet she still stays with him AND is angry at her mother for not leaving her abusive father sooner. This just one aspect that Riley tackles. Other issues involve the internal conflict of the abused, the psychological roots of the abuser and the warning signs.

That is a lot for a novel that just under 170 pages. Not only that but the book is told in bits and pieces so the reader gets a sort of complete picture towards the end plus the narrative is dialogue heavy and at times it’s just a little bit difficult to follow a conversation but the story will definitely provoke the mind long after it is finished. Despite the deceivingly scrappy plot, First Love is a satisfying read