I have two thoughts upon finishing Summer Cannibals by Melanie Hobson. The first is that I truly feel sad that Ms. Hobson felt it necessary to depict such a despicable family. The other reaction I have is simply WTF.
Summer Cannibals starts out as a relatively quirky family drama in which three sisters come home for a few days one summer. The entire family rallies around the baby sister, who is suffering from pregnancy depression. Except, like any good family drama, things are never as simple as all that.
The story takes a weird turn as we start to recognize the weird power struggle between the husband and wife. Ms. Hobson spends too much time explaining why David feels that he reigns over his house and garden and how he deserves(!) the proper respect as a result. One could explain this away as evidence of family dysfunction. Except, Ms. Hobson then shows how David uses sex as a method for dominance, and how his wife lets him get away with what is essentially rape.
Oh, and it gets worse from there. By the time the husband and wife (spoiler alert) rape an unconscious woman found in their house after a garden exhibition and the second daughter decides that affairs are the secret to a successful marriage, what was quirky became absolutely repugnant. There are scenes I wish I could unread, just like I wish I had never met this horrible family.
I do not know what Ms. Hobson was thinking when she penned Summer Cannibals. The family is terrible. At the same time, the individual family members are simply horrible. I know that there are plenty of people who use sex as a manipulation tool, but I don’t need nor want to see an entire family that thinks that way and sees nothing wrong with their behavior. Honestly, the husband thinks that the naked, unconscious woman his wife helps him to rape is an apology gift from his wife! No thank you.