Summary and book reviews of Yellow by Janni Visman

Yellow

A Novel

by Janni Visman

Yellow
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2005, 192 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2006, 192 pages

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Book Summary

An intense, tautly crafted novel of sensual manipulation and suspense that confirms the arrival of a fantastic new talent.

In her spotless top-floor flat, Stella has created the ultimate cocoon. Her life is impeccably ordered, spare, and completely sealed within her London flat. Everything comes to her—her aromatherapy massage clients, her pharmaceuticals, and her lovers. When Ivan, the gasman, comes to fix a leak in her flat, she asks him to stay to for good. Soon, a Vertigo-like spiral of secrets and betrayals begin to seep through the flat like the acrid, yellow odor of gas. And as the two engage in a brilliantly choreographed erotic dance, Stella’s life gradually slips through her fingers as everything she has sought to control turns against her.

TUESDAY

The room is full of the smell of oranges. Ivan is already down to the pith, the continuous spiral of peel on the table in front of him. Up till a moment ago we were neck and neck but then my peel broke and I had to refind my purchase. Up till a moment ago it was perfect symmetry. We take our time with the pith; let it get under our nails. I speed up a little to be in sync with him again. The oranges are fresh; the pith comes off in large sections. We both pile it to the right of the peel. The next part of our ritual, the part before we sink our thumbs into the centre to split the fruit apart, is to push up our sleeves. First we put the orange down on the plate. Then we push the sleeve on the left arm up. Then the right arm. Gentle, domestic manoeuvres.

We watch each other as we do this. Content in our ...

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Stella, the narrator and heroine of Janni Visman's new novel Yellow, is an obsessive-compulsive shut-in. She lives in a compartmentalized, controlled environment of her own design in which everything she needs—from work to lovers to makeup—comes to her. Within this framework of rules and repetition, Stella has achieved a kind of psychological security. But when Ivan, her lover, violates the agreement of their affair with a revelation about his past, Stella's hermetic existence breaks wide open.

Visman embraces the issues of identity, sexuality, power, and trust with unrelenting honesty and masterful control. A ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

The Washington Post - Susan Adams

Visman displays a flair for precise, almost frugal, prose, making Yellow a tense, compact story that will hold readers in its unsettling grip until the final page.

Publishers Weekly

Visman does turn out some sharp prose while keeping readers guessing, but Stella is too grating to hold readers' sympathy, even when she deserves it.

Library Journal - Elaine Bender

Clues exist for the careful reader, but overall Vismans's (Sex Education) slim novel spanning five days just doesn't jell, straddling the line between psychological drama and crime fiction.

Kirkus Reviews

Captivating, like Ruth Rendell at her best, but with a mordant hipness that marks the welcome U.S. debut of British novelist Visman.

Booklist - Joanne Wilkinson

In this understated, beautifully written page-turner, Visman uses spare, ambiguous details to create an atmosphere of overwhelming menace and paranoia as Stella's small, orderly world starts to disintegrate.

The Times Literary Supplement

Simple but highly effective, Yellow sets the net curtains of one's mind a twitch.

The Daily Mail

A taut, maze-like narrative that will entrap you within pages.

Reader Reviews

Oona

High expectations, ok book
I was surprised when I picked up this title at the library - it is more of a short story than a novel. My disclaimer is that I like longer stories, with intricate plots. Having said that, this book was a disappointment. It reads quickly, and kept my ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Janni Visman studied film at the London College of printing and mixed media at the Slade School of Fine Art. She lives in London. Her first novel, Sex Education was published by Bloomsbury UK in 2002 and, according to one reviewer offers 'the most haunting portrayal of the abusive power of relationships in girls' friendships since Atwood's Cat's Eye'. Yellow is her second novel and her first to be published in the USA.

Visman says 'in a desperate rush to finish my first novel, Sex ...

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