*I edited this novel and received a free ARC of the final book, with no obligation to review at all. This review is unbiased and represents my own personal opinions.*
Blurb: Set in today’s confusing pandemic world, Trudy Toogood seeks a better life in London, but tragedy leads her to take a strange path, one that takes her into a world of pornography, power and abuse, to Africa and back, and leads to a murder – but whose?
This gripping and exciting story is told with gentle humour and empathy through Tru’s eyes, as the country enters lock-down. This is a tale of sex, sisterhood, abuse, hope and ultimately love. Sometimes dark, sometimes funny, but always intriguing, this first novel by a new author interweaves the lives of three women and two very different men in a fascinating way. The reader will feel for Tru and the women she meets, question what happens to them, and ultimately cheer their redemption.
Based on true events, this novel explores controversial contemporary issues concerning women and contains adult themes.
The contents of this book falls well outside my usual comfort zone of reading, but once I had started, I had to continue and find out how Tru’s story would end.
The story is told in the voice of the main character, Tru (and in later chapters, those of Janice and Elinah too), as she retrospectively recounts her life’s history for the reader. And what a history it is! I should warn that this is not a book for the prudish or squeamish, as Tru falls by chance into a modelling career, trades sex for accommodation, and slides inexorably into the murkier realm of pornography. Along the way, the author – via Tru – explores many issues faced by women in these trades, and in the world of sex work generally: rape and non-consensual sex; coercion and violence; prejudices, pregnancy and fear of poverty.
Everything is discussed in Tru’s voice – raw, honest and authentic – and she doesn’t shy away from any of the intimate details, good or bad. This results in a narrative that is heart-wrenching at some points, erotic at others, and disturbingly frank throughout about the dangers women still face in some areas of life.
This is important, as the author makes it very clear in the story, and in his endnotes and author comment, that the events in this book are true and really happened. Not all to the same woman, but to multiple women of his personal acquaintance. These are real stories that Michael Booton has pulled together to form a single narrative, one that amplifies his feminist views and blares his support for African women, women in the sex trade, and women in general.
My views are not completely aligned with those expressed in the book, and the story challenged some of my assumptions and beliefs, taking me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to reassess my positions on some of the issues explored. Which is exactly what the author was aiming for! That, and a respectful tribute to the beloved women in his own life and the challenges they have faced.
While not a quick, easy read, this is a well-written and thought-provoking story that follows three women as they journey through violence and deprivation in an attempt to reach their own happily ever afters, and encompasses many important issues on the way. I would recommend this story to anyone wishing to gain a deeper insight into the grey area where modelling and pornography overlap; anyone interested in issues of violence perpetrated against (and by) women; and those who just want an interesting woman-centred story about love, loss and surviving life.
‘They say (whoever ‘they’ is) that there has to be balance in the universe. Karma they call it. Or something. You do something good, or bad, and it’ll come back to you. Well, I don’t know about that; my life has seemed to me to be whatever you do, it’ll turn out bad, or worse, boring. But maybe this explains what happened to me.’– Michael J. Booton, Too Good To Be Tru
You can find Michael J. Booton on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Too Good To Be Tru is available on Amazon right now.