Vladimir is Julia May Jonas’ first book. “When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me.” the book begins, so it immediately landed on my radar, and I started reading it without delay. Besides being very good for a first book, Vladimir was a novel that I enjoyed reading recently with its characters and subject.
Vladimir’s narrator is a woman who works as a literature professor at a university, whose name we do not know, but whom we love as soon as we meet. The narrator’s husband, John, who works at the same university, is under investigation for his sexual relations with his former students. Although John and our narrator have an open relationship, these complaints coming years later from the students complicate and change the lives of both of them. And, of course, a new pair of teachers have arrived at the university: Vladimir and his wife, Cynthia. Everything becomes more complicated when this highly charismatic couple enters the lives of our narrator and John.
Although Vladimir is a book that looks like it’s going to be completely specific to the character of Vladimir when you look at the title and the cover of the book, it is a novel that touches on relationships, extraordinary relationships, family, parenting, the gap between generations, academia and many more. Our narrator is a woman who is forced to take a side by the academy, students and even her daughter because of her husband’s actions and is blamed for her choices.
However, despite everything, she does not give up on her way of life, what she feels, and what she wants to do. And she conveys these to the reader so well that she reminds the reader that what is seen from the outside and what is happening inside are never the same. It also shows that criticizing is the easiest thing, and understanding is something no one wants to deal with.
Vladimir is a novel that is read quickly and enthusiastically, thanks to its plot that contains many surprises, its delightful characters and the author’s fluent style. If you’re interested, be sure to check it out and take a look at this as well: The End of the Affair – Graham Greene. Enjoy!
‘If Netflix’s The Chair, Lisa Taddeo’s best-seller Three Women, and the most compelling passages of Ottessa Moshfegh’s Death in Her Hands had a love child (just go with me here), it would be this fiction debut. With a title character who’s a sought-after young novelist new to a college faculty,
Vladimir leaves the reader with more questions than answers – about sex, and sexual politics – in the most delicious way.’ – Entertainment Weekly
Vladimir: A provocative, razor-sharp, and timely debut novel about a beloved English professor facing a slew of accusations against her professor husband by former students – a situation that becomes more complicated when she herself develops an obsession of her own . . .
When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me.
And so we meet our deliciously incisive narrator: a popular English professor whose husband, a charismatic professor 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 extramarital 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 her bold, edgy, and uncommonly assured literary debut, Julia May Jonas takes us into charged territory, where the strictures of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. Propulsive, darkly funny, and surreptitiously moving, Vladimir maps the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the messy contradictions of power and desire.
Julia May Jonas
Julia May Jonas is a playwright and teaches theatre at Skidmore College. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with her family. Vladimir is her debut novel.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: