A young woman freefalls into a “fast . . . stark swirl of sex, violence and near-madness” in this daring novel of dark desire (Publishers Weekly).
When Josie, an anthropology grad student, is unexpectedly offered a job as the nanny for a six-year-old boy, she innocently accepts. Though Josie doesn’t necessarily need the job, there’s something about her ward’s single mom, Mary—her beauty, her confidence, her resemblance to Josie’s estranged mother—that’s soothing to Josie. It also breeds betrayal when Josie moves in on Mary’s crush, Devesh. An Indian surgeon ten years Josie’s senior, Devesh is a strong and enigmatic man who pulls Josie into a dizzying world of sexual domination and submission that speaks to her deeply hidden impulses. In this world of increasingly brutal games, Josie is forced to confront her damaged and disturbing past.
An unflinching look at the irrevocable consequences of giving in to our most secret passions, Playing “is a breathless read, whose rewards are both unpredictable and unforgettable” (Howard Norman, Whiting Award-winning author of The Bird Artist).
Abrams's debut novel is a revealing look inside the mind of a woman who enjoys being beaten, shamed and dominated by her lover. While pursuing her studies, 27-year-old anthropology graduate student Josie works as a nanny for a single mother with a special-needs son and a baby girl. While Josie may at first seem like a wholesome young woman, it isn't long before she's sneaking out in the middle of the night to rendezvous with her older Indian doctor lover, Devesh, who recognizes her sadomasochistic desires. With great excitement, she allows herself to be bound and whipped, fulfilling her desire to "play." As Josie falls in love with Devesh, their bedroom escapades become increasingly brutal, and she struggles to make sense of her need for sexual violence as she explores her relationship with her mother and confronts her guilt about the death of her infant brother, who died under murky circumstances when she was a little girl. The narrative moves fast, and the stark swirl of sex, violence and near-madness will please readers with a dark bent.