Review: Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Novel

Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Novel Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Novel by Victoria Christopher Murray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With revealing and introspective first-person narration, the plot follows conventional methods. The characters are skillfully delineated in the exposition; the central conflict lies within the Tiffanie herself as she considers using her body to gain intimacy and only later realizes that this supposed sexual satisfaction is, in fact, exacting a heavy price. The reader is taken steadily toward a moment of truthfulness, when she finally reveals the reason for her pain. The story does not ends abruptly, though there is a denouement that satisfies and leaves one believing in the power confronting evil. Moreover, readers are left wondering if she has confronted the very thing she fears.

Despite intentions to remain emotionally removed from their story, Tiffanie and Damon move subtly into self-reflection. Each begins searching for understanding and meaning. Though, she languishes in sorrow and he embraces rationality, if only momentarily. This more honest tone takes over the story as Tiffanie’s mood becomes confessional, revealing pain and loneliness rather than a flat recounting. Murray wants readers to see that for this sexually unsatisfied Christian wife, self-awareness follows and is a consequence of impetuous, self-damaging actions. Enter Trey, the novel’s antagonist and a scholar of the streets and lust. Tiffanie is faced with the ultimate choice. The choice between the hearth (home) or the furnace (Trey), and uncharacteristic of a preacher’s grandchild, she wants both. While managing to only share the details with her best friend, she begins to recoil from the destructive desire she develops for Trey. When Tiffanie realizes her love for Damon exceeds the confines of sexual fulfillment, she realizes she is merely the victim of her mother’s faults and almost curses the day she was born. Appearing to be a slave to lust and the mistress of repression, Tiffanie struggles between the two facets of her character. However, this pattern of restlessness, dissatisfaction, and emotional destruction continues until she finally realizes is happening.
What Murray seems to do in Lust is construct a kind of summary of sexuality, in which she attempts to integrate sex with other aspects of human experience. Moreover, lust is used here as a metaphor for the human condition. The human longing for relational passion is the central doctrine. It is a source of both aspiration and destruction, the most fundamental ingredient for survival and, in the struggle between license and restraint, the means by which human beings exercise their freedom.

Exquisitely and powerfully, Murray presents the story of a young woman’s effort to face a family secret that has held her emotionally hostage, preventing her from arriving at both sexual and romantic happiness.

Upon delving further into the story, I believe it portrays a dissatisfaction almost inherent in the lives of women – the inability to experience passion and peace and the ephemerality of marital (or relational bliss) in the midst of emotional turmoil. The explicitness and concern with a woman’s sexual satisfaction, and subsequent relinquishment of her heart, exists in Lust, but Murray is less intent on rendering the reader into shock through blatant exhibitionism.

Murray renders, though will all the delicacy and appropriateness required of Christian fiction readers, the reader to see Tiffanie as one of us. She is not a warped, lustful woman wrapped in her own self-imprisonment; but, a woman (our sister, daughter, or best friend) whose initial avoidance of love reveals the tragic-comic dimensions of our own lives and the subsequent effect of lust.

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