A schoolgirl catches the eye of the future leader of Nazi Germany. An aspiring playwright writes to a convicted serial killer, seeking inspiration. A pair of childhood sweethearts reunite to commit rape and murder. A devoted Mormon wife follows her husband into the wilderness after he declares himself a prophet.
The twelve stories in The Love of a Bad Man imagine the lives of real women, all of whom were the lovers, wives, or mistresses of various ‘bad’ men in history. Beautifully observed, fascinating, and at times horrifying, the stories interrogate power, the nature of obsession, and the lengths some women will go to for the men they love.
About the Author
Laura Elizabeth Woollett was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia. She moved to Melbourne after high school and, in 2012, completed an honours degree in creative writing at the University of Melbourne. Her first novel, The Wood of Suicides, was written while she was an undergraduate, and concerns a teacher-student relationship. It was published in the US in early 2014. The same year, she was awarded a Wheeler Centre/Readings Foundation Hot Desk Fellowship and the John Marsden/Hachette Prize for Fiction. In 2015, she was chosen as one of Melbourne Writers Festival’s ‘30 Under 30’. She is currently at work on her second novel, Beautiful Revolutionary, about a young counterculture couple who become involved with Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple in late ’60s California.
'Woollett is skilled at giving each woman a different voice, from the dramatic correspondence of Veronica Compton, to the semi-educated whining of Blanche Burrow. What each woman has in common is their transformation.'
New York Journal of Books
'The Love of a Bad Man is a rare combination of immense writing talent and wondrous imagination. You've never read a book quite like this one.'
Jeff Guinn, author of Manson
'Like Helen Garner, Laura Woollett is impelled to explore the darkest corners of the human heart, the savage cognitive distortions of love; to understand and empathise with the monstrous, rather than to instinctively recoil or judge...Woollett's pitch-perfect command of narrative voice, period, and psychology creates 12 tales to fascinate and unnerve.'
'A genuinely fresh reading experience...we're sure to hear a lot more from this talented writer in coming years.' FOUR STARS
'With each finely tuned voice, Woollett draws empathy from abject horror. A confident and mesmerising performance.'
Melanie Joosten, author of Berlin Syndrome
'Compelling and powerful...Woollett has inhabited the spirit of these various women in a manner both thought-provoking and touching.'
Ruth Wykes, co-author of Women Who Kill and Invisible Women
'Chilling...[Woollett] has rendered these women so real, so believable, sympathetic, and even likeable in some cases, despite the dreadful things they condone or participate in.'
'[Woollett] raises unnerving questions about the nature of desire: about why any of us are drawn to people who are bad, or bad for us, and why we stay with them. That she refuses to answer them is not to the detriment of The Love of a Bad Man, and in fact ensures that the collection never feels gimmicky...The stories are entirely concerned with conveying the distinctive interiority of the women, with the exploration of their impulses and insecurities. It is by the accretion of these case studies, rather than by armchair psychologising her girls, that Woollett builds her case.'
Veronica Sullivan, The Lifted Brow
'An unusual and affecting reading experience, coupling true crime with literary fiction...Laura Elizabeth Woollett is refreshing, challenging, and utterly unique and I'm already looking forward to her next achievement.'
'The idea is intriguing and the execution goes well beyond expectation...The Love of a Bad Man gives sophisticated insight, and is full of empathy and nuance for the people portrayed.'
'Woollett's work in her female narrators' interior lives, her in-depth research and deployment of detail and vernacular, combines to lend a frightening and compelling understanding to these women's choices, and in some but not all cases, their coercion.'
'Seductive and enthralling...Woollett is a master of her craft. You won't be able to put it down.'
Stephanie Dickinson, author of Love Highway
'The Love of a Bad Man imagines the inner lives of historical figures who committed crimes all in the name of love...The stories treat death with a gothic inevitability and explore human darkness with a light touch.'
Lou Heinrich, The Guardian
'[Woollett's] stories are beautifully written-poised and elegant.'
Eithne Farry, Daily Mail
'[T]he varied voices are what makes this collection outstanding...truly unsettling reading.'
'Woollett explores power, obsession and warped love in this absorbing collection.'
Sharmaine Lovegrove, Elle