My Absolute Darling

My Absolute Darling (2017) is a debut novel from Garbiel Tallent ( describing a horribly tainted love. Both a Times and a Guardian Book of the Year 2017, it has attracted many plaudits. See here if you could set aside the time for it.


At 14 years old Turtle Alveston is a crack shot with a gun, knows how to survive in the wilderness without food and is able to save the lives of her friends by her vast knowledge of nature. Turtle is also ‘an illiterate little slit’, according to her father, Martin, a twisted individual whose libertarian ethos and autodidacticism are merely a cover for a gruesome sexual predator. She was christened Julia by her mother, who died in suspicious circumstances when Turtle was a child, but Martin nicknames her ‘kibble’, reducing her to dog food in their daily conversations. Martin, a boorish misogynist who routinely rapes his daughter on their isolated property on the Mendocino coast, prides himself on being a survivalist, the last man standing when the apocalypse hits. The story charts a harrowing year in Turtle’s life where she must choose to kill or die. It is only a chance meeting with two teenage boys, Brett and Jacob, that allows Turtle to realise how morally skewed her world is.


Some may not be able to stomach the descriptions of abuse that Turtle suffers. However, the story is one of escape from horror and a disfigured life. Despite the years of her torture, Turtle is still able to recognise a less tainted version of love. At one point in the book, she confesses that ‘her moments of happiness occur right at the margin of the unbearable’. Readers who stay with this unflinching heroine may find themselves rewarded with the conclusion.


Check if this excellent new book is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue at



432 pages in Fourth Estate

First published 2017

ISBN 978-0008185213


Gabriel Tallent

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