For thirty years Luke Livingstone was a “lucky” man. He worked as a well-respected solicitor and had a loving wife, son, daughter and grandchild. But life in Oxfordshire wasn’t as perfect as it originally seemed. That was because Luke was harbouring a secret- he desperately wanted to be a woman.
Eventually Luke is forced to make a tough decision, he will either kill himself or become the woman he always felt he should be. The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone is a fictional, family drama that looks at the issue of gender identity. It feels very honest and real as it portrays the problems and things that Luke must encounter as he makes the transition away from his birth name in order to become Lucia.
The story is written by barrister turned author, Charity Norman. In her fourth novel she seamlessly intertwines commentary about Luke’s day-to-day life with flashbacks as well as offering the perspectives from four different characters- Luke, his wife, Eilish and their two children. The characters are well thought out and life-like and their reactions to Luke being transgender range from grappling with uncertainty to denial and resentment and just about every other emotion in between.
The book does get a little repetitive, especially when scenes are re-told from different characters’ perspectives. At times there is also a sense that the same characters are continually ruminating over the same sorts of feelings. That said, this novel would be a very good one for individuals that are being touched by gender identity issues – either personally or through family or friends – to read and relate to.
The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone is an insightful read and look at the transgender population from a relevant and individual perspective. This family drama covers the ramifications of such a big decision including the tears and dysfunction. It also doesn’t hold back in portraying Luke as a social outcast at times. In short, it’s a frank story that should be shared with others.
This review originally appeared on The Reading Room and was received for free from the publishers as an advance copy. To view the original review please visit the following website: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book-review/reviewed-by-natsalvo/58591
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