I’ve just finished reading Anne E Thompson’s new book, Clara: A Good Psychopath?
This is a fascinating story, and beautifully written. In Clara, Anne E Thompson has somehow created a character who is both detestable and admirable at the same time – while you hate much of how she thinks and what she does, something in you is rooting for her and cheering her on. The traits of psychopathy/narcissistic personality disorder are obvious from the start, with Clara being unable to see beyond herself or empathise with others in any way. She only pursues friendships if she gets something out of them, uses people and casts them aside without another thought for them, and amuses herself by messing people around. She’s particularly taking delight in taking the rip out of a church community who she thinks are deluded and weak, by pretending to be one of them, joining in their worship band and listening avidly to the preaching. It’s interesting as while it’s all written from her very unreliable point of view, you do get an idea of the effect she is really having on others, and the lies she is spinning around herself – she believes everyone admires her and thinks she is wonderful, but the author has very cleverly weaved the tale so that the reader can see beyond this. Read it to see what I mean!
Eventually, Clara wreaks havoc on both her family and the church community, and knows she needs to leave, but as she is thinking about it she has a very powerful encounter with somebody who utterly changes her outlook, someone much more powerful and present than she imagined. This encounter leads her to India where she gets involved with a project helping women and children escape from the sex trade they have been sold into. This part of the book is rich in imagery and I often felt like I could almost see and smell the places the author was describing. It’s a fictional account of something that is happening in reality every day in the slums in cities all over the world, so it very much resonated in terms of the sheer raw horror of the situation. The interesting thing to me is that although Clara has encountered this huge goodness she doesn’t really change in her own personality – she doesn’t suddenly begin to ‘care’ about the trafficked women, for example, and is more concerned about the fame she can achieve herself for doing these charitable deeds – but within that, she knows she is following the will of the one who sent her, and knows that she has to do that – it is her purpose.
It’s a story of a person with great big issues, but more than that the story of the power of God and the effect meeting with Jesus has on a person, whatever their personality type and their own problems. In the end, love wins through – but not without a bumpy journey. If you’re looking for a happy ending and a narrative arc that sorts out all the problems then you’re going to be disappointed – but I think that if it was all tied up too neatly it wouldn’t do justice to who Clara really is, or how she changes when she meets with Jesus.
A wonderful, imaginative and gritty read – fully recommended. You can find it here on Amazon in paperback or e-book. Here is Anne’s description of the book:
Imagine for a moment that you can see through time.
Pretend you can see through the curtain separating your past and future, and consider what that might mean.
Is there anything as fascinating as other people? What motivates them, drives them, makes them who they are? And are some people born to be bad? For Clara Oakes, growing up in a family with the darkest of secrets, it seems that life is even more mysterious. In Clara’s world, people are to be used, and personal happiness is all that matters.
But then Clara’s perception of the world is changed forever. Leaving everything she knows, she finds herself in the slums of India, and is forced to confront adversaries greater than any she ever imagined. In a place where the trafficking of young girls is commonplace, can Clara find the resources she needs to survive? Can those psychopathic traits which have always guided her now be used as a strength? And is she willing to try?
In a story that spans three continents, the reader follows Clara from difficult child to destructive adult. CLARA is a novel about someone who is very bad, who manages to achieve something amazing.
From the author of the critically acclaimed JOANNA comes another fascinating exploration of a mind locked in a battle with remorseless enemies – both within and without.
Clara: A Good Psychopath by Anne E Thompson - book review. Fascinating, gritty read! Click To Tweet