What is it like to discover you were born because your mother was raped by a stranger? Sam discovers this awful truth, and gradually comes to terms with it. Is it a coincidence that her job as an academic researcher requires her to investigate ‘Rapeseeds’, the children of rape victims? Does the manner of their conception have effects on their psychological or intellectual development?
When Sam attempts to fulfill a long-held ambition to meet her natural father, she is drawn into a web of chance and intrigue that leads inexorably to danger. Does anyone love her enough to save her from herself?
Avoiding the sensationalism of media coverage, Sam’s story brings the terrible crime of rape into focus through the lives of ordinary human beings who have to overcome the tragedy rape. It’s a story of love and friendship, of obsession, and a ‘leave the lights on’ nail-biting thriller.
“The primary aim of the book, though entertaining, is to expose the reader to the horrors of rape, its effects on people, and research’s ethical dilemmas. In this it is faultless. The story crucially compares consensual loving sex with forced and ugly assault, grabs the reader’s attention, while allowing them to think about the moral and ethical problems of rape, both personal and methodological, it exposes.”
Christopher Nuttall, former Director of Research and Statistics, Home Office
Review by Carole Bromley
An admirer of Alwyn Marriage’s poetry, I was very interested to go to the launch of her novel, Rapeseed, in York. It was clear from her presentation and reading that the book was meticulously researched and beautifully written.
The novel concerns Sam, a young woman researcher into the children resulting from rape and whether they might share certain characteristics. From the outset we learn that Sam also has a personal interest in the subject as her own mother was raped and she herself falls into the category of the ‘rapeseed’ of the title. Her mother never discussed this with her and the narrative, which becomes increasingly tense and gripping, is interspersed with diary entries from childhood onwards in which Sam expresses a desire to find her father.
The personal (and there is a very well-written sub plot of a long-running love affair which contrasts beautifully with the ugliness and violence of rape) becomes inseparable from the academic and the researcher keeps her own family history a secret from her professor as well as from the governor of Wandsworth Prison where she is given access to files, including that of her own father.
Without wishing to give away the plot, I found myself caught up in the narrative and anxious for the main character who puts herself in real danger when she finally puts the personal before the academic and secretly arranges to meet her mother’s rapist in a lonely spot.
I can highly recommend this book which is a real page-turner and also an intelligent investigation into rape and its wide-ranging consequences. The characterisation and dialogue are superb and the reader’s interest is captured and sustained by a fast-moving narrative.