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Review of Lioness, by Emily Perkins


In her early twenties Teresa was drifting along after finishing her marketing degree, working at a hotel and trying to get a stationery brand off the ground.

A chance encounter with Trevor (in his forties) changed the course of her life. He invested in her idea, and in her, helping her to set up as ‘Therese’ both personally and professionally. Over the next 30 years her life married to Trevor is filled with material success, as she opens a series of décor shops, while he pursues a range of property developments in Wellington and beyond.

On the eve of one of their fabulous parties, she hears breaking news on the radio that Trevor’s most recent hotel development has been halted due to an investigation into corruption. They go ahead with the party for the rich and influential of Wellington, but hardly anyone turns up.

Trevor’s failed efforts to encourage more investment in the hotel, to get them through this delay, starts to generate a cool wind around their success and security for the first time since Therese has known him.

Therese shrugs this off at first, as a blip that Trevor will sort out. But gradually the cracks widen in the façade of their business enterprises, and Therese starts to look harder at Trevor, and the whole Trevor and Therese arrangement.

This isn’t helped by a hilarious (for the reader) family holiday in the Sounds, which exposes further imperfections in the enviable lifestyle of this rich family. Therese’s helper role in this dynamic with her husband and her four adult step-children casts her as an outsider within their group, even after 30 years with Trevor. This less-than-equal partnership becomes less beneficial as the investigations and revelations become more serious.

Therese spends more and more time with a female neighbour in their apartment block, as an escape from these tensions, but also just because the neighbour and her unexpected flatmates provide her with a place to be free from the hidden costs of living in the shadow of her successful husband.

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