Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Once bitten


Role model's fall from grace

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Biting the Apple by Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Carroll & Graf, $14.99

Even with her athletic victories far behind her, former Olympic sprinter Eve Glass is still running, figuratively and literally. In Lucy Jane Bledsoe's third novel, a faulty heroine with a changed name has carved herself into the career of motivational speaker and self-help author. Her sincerity is her selling point.

Eve's obsessive ex-husband Nick is also her manager and former high school track coach, a man nearly sacrificing his new marriage to take care of Eve's career, which involves booking speaking tours and covering up a few shoplifting escapades.

As Eve's new book, a breezy rumination on "finding grace" is released, among Eve's inquisitive fans are a freelance reporter who just so happens to be Joan, a high school teammate with whom Eve had a teenage affair. Joan's passion, amplified by school figureheads, had resulted in her being transferred to another school. So Joan has a grudge, and soon catches up with Eve, increasingly more like a stalker than a journalist, despite Nick's efforts to skirt Eve around her.

If it all sounds a bit soap operatic, it's not. Bledsoe's writing style gives the novel a realistic tone. Eve's constructed reality gets chipped away chapter by chapter, even on an Oprah-like TV show, where the host plays would-be inquisitor.

Eve's kleptomania, a lighter scandal compared to those of today's real celebrities, gets her into more trouble. But facing her past, and owning up to her desires for an older poet who dismisses Eve's authenticity, may mean a larger sacrifice to her polished presentations.

When Nick finally tries to let go, and hires Alissa to become Eve's new manager, he and Eve are forced to confront Alissa's cold marketing objectives of seeing Eve as a product. What Alissa doesn't find out until later is just how damaged the goods are, and her own life suffers a few snags along the way.

The lesbian romantic aspects aren't particularly highlighted, but are integral to the back story, and build conflict between Joan and Eve. The interweaving of these lives around one minor celebrity are what make Biting the Apple a compelling read.

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