Bibliophile: The Secret Life of Luke Livingston

secret lifeThe Secret Life of Luke Livingstone

by Charity Norman

Allen & Unwin

Luke Livingstone lives in the Oxfordshire countryside and seems to be a lucky man. Married for thirty years to his best friend, his two children have now made successful lives for themselves and he dotes on his two grandchildren. Even though this solicitor is a respected member of the community, he has dark thoughts of ending his life as he can’t see a solution to his dilemma.

All his life, Luke has seen himself as female and he has begun to feel imprisoned in his own body. It only a chance discussion with a stranger on a train that makes him reconsider his drastic intentions and consider the alternative – to become the woman he knows himself to be. As Lucia emerges, living arrangements change and a plan is worked out for the workplace … but then there’s the internet which throws careful planning out the window.

The chapters take different points of view as Luke begins to take his journey of discovery and his wife Eilish finds out that she didn’t really know her husband. His daughter Kate thinks he is destroying the family for a non-issue and his son Simon totally freaks out and all political correctness is forgotten because it is his father who wants to become a freak. Even Luke is “awfully bigoted for a man who keeps lipstick in his briefcase”.

Norman paints an interesting, if somewhat melodramatic at times, journey. She shows how difficult it is to categorise people into neat little boxes. The countless things that make us human can’t be divided in a binary way – “the world isn’t yin and yang, it isn’t black and white and it certainly isn’t bloody Venus and Mars; it’s so much more fun than that.”

Lezly Herbert


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