The Hare by Melanie Finn is a feminist thriller. The story of an art student, Rosie Monroe, who falls in love with the much older “world-wise”, Bennett Kinney. Starting as a twisted unbalanced love story, Rosie finds herself pregnant, and the rest of the story follows her decision to keep the child, Kinney’s life, and Rosie’s own growth. Content warnings for: abortion, childhood sexual abuse, pedophilia, and transphobic speech towards the end.
Rosie is an orphan who was raised by her grandmother and she falls in love with Bennett who seduces her with his tales of hanging out with celebrities, leading a rich but suspect lifestyle, and indulging her. Bennett is a con-man and Rosie starts to see his truth when he takes her and their infant daughter, Miranda, away to a lonely falling-apart house in Vermont for his supposed teaching job. He leaves them alone and Rose (she shortens her name) learns to survive with the help of her neighbor, Billy (full name, Willamina), a tough, brave, and resourceful woman with six dogs. The descriptions of the Vermont area through Rose’s survival are desolate, beautiful, horrifying, and breathtaking. I felt very sad reading about her struggles; she seemed like a pioneer in her fight for survival.
Bennett’s schemes result in further problems and in Rose making rash decisions. Rose has to live with the consequences of her action and these make the novel a thriller, rather than just a story of human perseverance and a guide to surviving the world in Vermont.
I enjoyed seeing Rose’s growth as a strong individual who doesn’t give up in the face of adversity, although at times I found her innocence and naiveté baffling. The contrast between her life and that of Bennett’s WASP-ish lifestyle made me laugh and angry in turns. Rose’s realization of her identity as a woman, and a woman with limited resources who single-handedly arise her daughter is admirable. The novel has scenes where Rose’s poverty and helplessness are stark and heart-wrenching. This novel brought out a lot of strong feelings for me and is not for the faint-hearted. It is intense, polarizing, and inspiring. A recommend read with conditions attached.