Vladimir by Julia May Jonas
Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Pub Date: 2/1/2022
Thank you to Avid Reader Press for the free advanced copy on NetGalley and Simon Audio for the advanced listening copy on LibroFM in exchange for my honest review.
GoodReads Synopsis: “When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me.”
And so we are introduced to our deliciously incisive narrator: a popular English professor whose charismatic husband at the same small liberal arts college is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their extra-marital pursuits, but with these new allegations, life has become far less comfortable for them both. And when our narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus, their tinder box world comes dangerously close to exploding.
With this bold, edgy, and uncommonly assured debut, author Julia May Jonas takes us into charged territory, where the boundaries of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. Propulsive, darkly funny, and wildly entertaining, Vladimir perfectly captures the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the nuances and the grey area between power and desire.
Review: Vladimir is Julia May Jonas’s debut. This dark academia literary fiction explores desire, obsession, feminism, and society expectations. I initially heard of this book through Book of the Month and was intrigued by the premise and the interesting cover.
Before I go into my review, I say the cover is interesting and not “unfortunate” as others have mentioned because it’s not what we typically see on covers. It kind of reminds me of those historical fiction or smut romances back in the ‘90s when they had people on covers. Do I agree with the cover choice? Maybe not, but because of the conversation around it, it did make me more interested in the book which I have to say was a clever and powerful move from the publisher from a marketing perspective. If you want to learn why the U.S. cover was picked, go check out the video “our CEO explains how a book cover is made” on @simonandschuster. I found this video to be extremely fascinating and loved learning more on what their vision for the book was.
Now onto the review, I actually really liked this book! When I was reading the first chapter in the ebook, I was intrigued by the story, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it. I started listening to the audio and absolutely loved the audiobook narrator, Rebecca Lowman. She really brought out the narrator’s perspective for me. In terms of the storyline, this is a very character driven story and liked the pace of it. I also really enjoyed the writing style as well. The perspective is from a late 50s college English professor where her professor husband is under investigation for inappropriate relations with his students. In the midst of that, she starts becoming infatuated over a new celebrated married novelist in his 30s, Vladimir. The narrator explains her open relationship with her husband, her desires, and her innermost thoughts and reflections. Though the unnamed narrator is unlikable, her perspective is fresh, bold, pushes boundaries, and explores the gray area between desire and power. I definitely recommend this to readers who love dark academia! I would recommend reading a sample of the first few pages to see if it’s right for you.