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Ella is 26, and alone in New York. She has been existing for weeks on alcohol and pastries. Today, she has been given a job. Lonnie, a well to do housewife with everything, has been searching for a nanny to care for William, son of James and Lonnie; and so, the story Devotion, begins.

The two women are the same age but come from enormously different backgrounds. Lonnie is confident and sure of herself, used to every indulgence that life can bring. Ella was brought up in a small town in Oregon. Her mother left the family when Ella was young, and poverty was a way of life. Lonnie has decided to write a book and needs Ella to mind her son, William.

William quickly takes to his new nanny which is lucky because there doesn’t seem to be much parenting from James, and sporadic attention from Lonnie.

The story is told within a border of tension and anxiety. It is narrated by Ella who is desperately trying to understand how she and Lonnie have become such different persons, while having so much in common. Her curiosity is boundless, and she snoops mercilessly into the diary and notes of Lonnie. She listens behind doors and is often at home when Lonnie, very drunk, gets back from a luncheon.

Gradually a friendship builds up between the two women. It is evident that Lonnie is desperately unhappy, and her husband rather disinterested. Sexual tensions build up between characters and Ella continues her snooping. She and Lonnie go away for a short break to a writers Camp, and it is here that Lonnie suggests that Ella pretend to be her.

Because all of the characters are living in a fragile situation, something has to change and predictably, it will not be for the better. One feels sad for the little boy William, who is cared for but not really loved. Rather than titivated the reader feels dismay at the shallow nature of the individuals portrayed here.

AuthorMadeline Stevens
DistributorAllen and Unwin
ReleasedSeptember 2019