On the literary scene, Love & Virtue is making a more serious (due to its intense themes) take on life in this country as a female university student.
To summarise the novel, it follows two intelligent and bold women called Michaela and Eve who become friends during their first year at an elite residential Sydney private university college.
The girls who live in adjacent rooms are different from each other as one is popular and confident and the other is an unsure people pleasure.
But during O-week, something happens during a drunken encounter that will force the friends to navigate consent, power, friendship, privilege, and betrayal.
The rise of campus novels has been a global success from Donna Tartt's The Secret History, and of course, Normal People, so to read a version of this genre set in our own backyard will nudge at our growing desire to see our own lived experiences in the art we love.
Despite the exclusivity of the book's setting, every young Aussie can relate to the struggles of the classism bubbling silently under the surface of our nation's larrikin persona by either witnessing it, falling victim to it, or embracing it.
Both The Sydney Morning Herald and the podcast by Schwartz Media called The Culture have compared the book to Normal People.
“Reid is a long-time fan of the campus novel, books, such as Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and Sally Rooney’s Normal People, that draw the reader into strict hierarchies, realms where secret codes are upheld by insiders and survived by outsiders,” wrote Sydney Morning Herald author Neha Kale.
We can compare the main character's Connell and Marianne's vastly different social statuses to Eve and Michaela. However, the extent of their relationship's imbalance is yet to be seen (So, stop what you're doing and get a copy!).
Love & Virtue also analyses sex and consent, which is timely considering the overdue discussions about sexual violence which have come out this year.
From Chanel Contos’ Instagram poll, which revealed hundreds of testimonies shared by Sydney schoolgirls about their experiences with sexual assault, and her eventual petition for better sex education in schools, to Brittany Higgins and Australian of The Year Grace Tame, the conversations about consent have never been louder.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a high school student, about to finish year 12, or are studying at university, Love & Virtue will speak to your lived experiences as a young woman trying to feel seen within our mostly 40-year-old male-skewed pop culture.
As for what Diana expects readers to get out of the book, she told Nine Honey that she wants people to question their judgement.
"Okay, so it doesn't sound fun. But I want them to be more confused about 'right and wrong'. I want them to feel at the end that they are less sure in their judgments of the characters and of the situations than they were at the outset. Having said that, I appreciate the being like this book will be confusing is not a very good sell, so I also hope that is they laugh and are entertained,” she told the publication.
Love and Virtue is out now, and you can find it at your favourite book haven (AKA bookshop).
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