REVIEW: The Harpy by Megan Hunter

What would you do if your husband cheated? Would you stay together? Would you seek revenge? Maybe you would do both.

The writing style is distinct and fanciful—it took me a while to get into its rhythm, but it works well for this story that is mostly stream of consciousness told from Lucy’s point of view. Lucy is a very flawed but relatable character. I was on team Lucy from the first page.

 Lucy finds out her husband has cheated, and it makes her question her own present, past and future. At times she even steps out of herself and the point of view switches to third person, narrated sometimes by the harpy that Lucy has obsessed about her whole life.

I asked my mother what a harpy was, and she told me: they punish men for the things they do.”

 This is another novel that doesn’t have quotation marks, which seems to be very popular right now. In this case, it adds to the surreal quality of many scenes—we are totally in Lucy’s mind, and we are not sure if it is completely sound as she contemplates her husband’s actions.

Something must be really wrong if he fucked an old woman. This would, surely, be what everyone was saying. But perhaps I should have been proud of Jake for so thoroughly failing to conform to the stereotype. At least she was not one of his graduate students, with a firm body and loose mind, someone I would have had to approach with an almost maternal scorn. She was so much older than either of us. She was of the generation that had it all, supposedly: the ones who were said to have taken everything for themselves, until there was nothing left.”

 Lucy and Jake come to an agreement that will “fix” what he has done. Lucy’s actions are a little over the top, but I felt her anger and humiliation so strongly that I wanted her to inflict even more pain on Jake. This is a short, suspenseful read—I didn’t want to put it down.

 The cover of The Harpy is bizarre, so I probably should have expected parts of this book to be bizarre as well. The novel takes on a very fairy tale quality, which suits the story to a point, but it left me feeling a bit cheated of an actual ending—I wanted a little more clarity.

 Thank you to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for an ARC copy of this novel.


The Harpy
Megan Hunter
Expected publication: November 3rd 2020 by Grove Press
201 pages


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