Bright and Dangerous Objects (2020)
Author – Anneliese Mackintosh
Genre – Literary Fiction
Page Count – 240 pages
“How are you meant to know what you want?” Solvig asks the question many of us struggle with for a long time and the expectations – both internal and external – which come with being a woman.
Solvig, a 37 year old saturation diver finds herself at the crossroads when she must decide between her ambitions or having a family. But right from the beginning, the author makes it very clear that she will not be cleaving the two into separate roads but rather what is real.
Solvig is an extremely relatable character. She is confused to the bones and full of questions. She thinks about her partner, James when she is away from him and dreams of having a family. She looks forward to living her dreams of going into space and leading an adventurous life when she is back home.
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The book is one of the most beautiful portrayals of womanhood I have ever read. As the story progresses, Solvig tries her best to not ask herself the question which is always on the tip of the tongue, “Why are women always expected to make one of the two choices? Something that is not expected of men”
Over time Solvig creates ways to keep these questions at bay since she does not know the answer to them. She closes in on herself and blocks out people and sometimes simply runs away rather than confronting something which has never been answered.
The relationship between Solvig and James is a little hard to understand. They are independent creatures with not much holding them together and a few secrets here and there often drive them apart.
The introduction of a woman named Evie with whom Solvig shares a night seems a bit out of place and unnecessary because the experience ultimately does not serve the story in anyway except for driving James and Solvig apart.
Anneliese Mackintosh’s writing is philosophical without being full of fluff and drives the reader towards asking the right questions without needing to be mentioned explicitly. The simple narrative of a regular woman caught between making a decision which millions go through made the experience of reading Bright and Dangerous Objects, eye-opening.