The Confession: three women mine the truth of motherhood

Book review: Absorbing exploration of female creativity by The Miniaturist author Jessie Burton

Jessie Burton: ‘A writer’s selfhood vies with her need to make herself invisible.’ Photograph: Awakening/Getty

Jessie Burton: ‘A writer’s selfhood vies with her need to make herself invisible.’ Photograph: Awakening/Getty

A short passage about a third of the way through The Confession appears to be deliberately elbowing itself in the ribs. Reclusive writer Constance (Connie) Holden is challenging her agent’s description of her new novel – her first in decades – as “a window on to difficult family dynamics”. It is diminishing to call her book that, Holden chides: “What about when a man writes about family? People don’t think he’s talking about his family. If a man writes about hoovering dust from the carpet they think he’s talking about cleansing one’s soul. But when a woman does the same, she’s talking about a hoover . . . They think we’re incapable of making stuff up. Seeing the bigger picture – when actually we’ve had to be best liars in town, the best impersonators.”

Toggling between LA in 1983 and the parallel track of Rose’s attempt to infiltrate another woman’s life in order to solve the mystery of herself

A spectre of impersonation, its protections and freedoms, shimmers over The Confession. Rose Simmons is willing to risk passing herself off as someone else (“Could I, if I wanted, invent a whole new biography for myself? I could eradicate Joe.”); former City broker Joe is half-heartedly trying to reinvent himself as the proprietor of a Mexican food truck; Rose and her mate Kelly employ a series of increasingly implausible nicknames (“Kettlebell” is one) for each other.

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