Duped X3 Liars
YouCaxton Publications, 2017
One could make the argument each of us is narrating our lives, imaging a story arc encompassing our past, embracing our present, and projecting a self into the future. We each have a clear line, a path, we expect and want to follow. However, we often forget life isn’t self-contained. At every moment we are reacting to others and they us. It is the dynamism of being human. Yet each of us to one degree or another still have in mind that storyline, that narrative arc we want to see ourselves on. Coming to the realization what you want and what you get rarely coincide and, in fact, aren’t meant to can be profoundly difficult.
The story of your life changes from what you imagine it to be to something challenge to accept as is. This is where self-writing, autobiography or creative nonfiction can come into play as a tool and a means to embrace oneself without invalidating oneself. One such work is Duped 3X Liars by Alice-Rose Trent. Perhaps not the most subtly titled book available, Trent’s account of her life reads as both ridiculous and somber, melodramatic and banal, annoying and deeply moving. Her narrative is messy (although her writing is swift and accomplished) serving at once as a cautionary tale and inspirational story.
More than anything our protagonist Belle Windsor gives us a window into a life far too many women experience–being charmed by a secret misogynist and serial abuser. However, she is able through the female friendships she surrounds herself with to not just overcome but build a life for herself and daughter on their own terms. No small feat. In fact, it’s Belle’s friends who seem the most engaging nearly always being the people to compel her to continue. We see this towards the end of the first third of the story when she arrives at a new home with her friend Polly:
Feeling nervous I proceeded to open the front door, eyes watering I hesitated. ‘What are you waiting for Belle, just open the door I want to see inside,’ said Polly. Just for a nanosecond, looking like an air-head doll I giggled, ‘I can’t open the door, I feel wonder-struck.’ ‘What do you mean, you’ve waited for this,’ she replied. ‘I know,’ I said, ‘Now I’ve finally got somewhere to live, its amazeballs, my life has just begun.’ Polly laughed, ‘There’s only one Belle Windsor; she’s only got one crack at life to bloody well live.’
Moments like this make for the strongest parts of Trent’s book. Her prose moves quickly in a hyper-conversational tone like a cross between the best dialogue in Gilmore Girls and Sex in the City. It can be almost exhausting as Trent sweeps over vast amounts of time and yet gives very detailed scenes of dramatic action. Readers will find themselves equally rolling their eyes, getting annoyed with, and cheering on Belle. Towards the end of the book when the drama becomes rather fabulous, readers will be both relieved and eager for more.
Content Warning: There are several scenes of domestic abuse, verbal and physical abuse, and rape.
I was born and raised in Nottingham where I currently live. I wrote my first story when I was fourteen, about a haunted house for the school magazine which won me first prize ‘a parker pen.’ Thereafter, I began writing unpublished children’s books at the age of sixteen just for fun. I attended NTU gaining a BA (Hons) Social Sciences degree in 1997. Shortly after that, I attended a three-year Humanistic Person-Centred psychotherapy training course. Writing journals for self-healing was a technique I found sometimes uplifting. I took various jobs in the public sector before the fibromyalgia condition impacted on my wellbeing. Having time on my hands meant having space to reflect and unfold on life’s experiences. Losing my unborn baby Paris-Gabriella was the worse unforeseen ill-fate. Life didn’t break me but sometimes the good times felt overshadowed by the downfalls. It felt positive to turn it around utilising journals jotting noteworthy events before unravelling and processing my conscious and unconscious soup in Duped X3 Liars! I still have one daughter, and always be, “a mother first.”