For everyone Book review: Love and Virtue, Diana Reid (Ultimo)

★★★★★

Diana Reid’s debut is a campus novel very much of our times. This is not a traditional tale of bespectacled, alcoholic academics chain-smoking behind oak desks, but a far darker story about the date rape of a scholarship student in the halls of residence at a prestigious Sydney university.

Reid smoothly works in the contemporary politics as the ramifications take hold with fellow students, each dealing with the event in different ways. 

Protagonist Michaela falls for her philosophy teacher, even though she is aware how big a cliché it is – he is, after all, twice her age. She sneaks back to his Bondi apartment, and we just know someone’s going to get hurt – but this inevitability doesn’t make it any less interesting.

This turns into a fast read: a well-paced and thoughtful contemporary novel about power and privilege, elevated by clear prose that pays close attention to detail. Buzzing with energy yet impressively restrained, this might be a debut, but it is written by someone familiar with the wax and wane of a human heart.

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