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Seven years on and Esmeralda has returned - perhaps a little wiser - but certainly not ruling the world... Yet.
This sade-sati, or seven year cycle, has been her toughest to date, facing the reality of an adulthood that didn't turn out to be all it had been cracked up to be; call-centres, depression and infertility had certainly not been part of the 'Grand Plan'. But perhaps planning had been the problem all along and that 'plans' are no use to anyone, other than being a good joke for God. As with the 'Fool' in the tarot deck, eternally stepping off of the cliff edge into the unknown, so too has our dear Esmeralda found herself falling into the abyss, discovering all her sense of control over the universe was nothing more than an illusion. But in doing so Esmeralda has also discovered that sometimes when you fall... You fly.
In her first book of the Saturn Returns series, The Girl Who’ll Rule The World, Jolie Booth introduced us to Esmeralda, although “introduced” is perhaps too polite and formal a term to apply to a process akin to being sucked into a howling vortex of hedonism, sex, drugs and partying, then being shot of out the other end like a cork in a wind tunnel.
In this book, however, Esmeralda is older, though not necessarily always wiser. Seven years have elapsed, during which time she has undergone experiences as varied as living in a famous (infamous) squat in Berlin, and touring Europe with a troupe of fools and mummers, struggling to make a living in the world of performing arts.
Although Esmeralda does indeed always suffer fools gladly, her journey through life has by no means been smooth. Fate is always willing to don the Jester’s cap, and pull the rug out from under her. Too young, and much too unconventional to suffer a mid-life crisis, she’s nevertheless been forced to confront many issues in her existence which can no longer be ignored or avoided. Marriage. Commitment. Children. She squares up to these challenges with her customary mix of crashing ahead, impulsively, smashing into hard, emotionally-charged situations, and sometimes, harking back to the old days of crashing out, in a haze of substances.
Once more, Jolie Booth has created a detailed and believable chronicle of a complicated character who you can’t help but love and feel for, infuriating though she often is. And in her unflinching confrontation of the physical and emotional pain of the difficulties of child-bearing, she has produced some of her finest writing yet.
If The Girl Who’ll Rule The World was Fifty Shades for the Trainspotting Generation, then Never Worn is what happens when you substitute Sylvia Plath for Bridget Jones.
“A richly detailed and relatable journey of hedonism and heartbreak, parties and penises and a growing maturity as the main character moves through her 30’s. When the heartache of infertility comes to the forefront, this becomes a touching and, at times, painful read which is hard to acknowledge, but raw and so important.” - Rebecca Fire