The Indulgence is a story of an actress descending to unfathomable depths, having become involved in a dangerous and secret love affair. LUCINDA YATES, a renowned stage and film actress, is unable either to understand or end her passionate, obsessive relationship with EVA RYDER. At the apex of her career, she starts to unravel. Finally managing to leave Eva in Europe, Lucinda returns to Canada. When Eva’s thirteen year old daughter disappears, the authorities issue an all-points bulletin. The police find the daughter in a car with Lucinda Yates. In 2010, she is charged with criminal abduction and, at trial, faces a prosecutor determined to establish the moral degradation which surrounds Yates’s criminality.
The Indulgence goes backstage, behind the story of Lucinda’s disintegration, into the mind of the judge who is trying the case, into the personalities of the lawyers whose strategies swing their clients’ fates. In stark and often macabre terms, the masks worn in the legal arena are stripped away.
Lucinda’s private passions become the daily fare of the courtroom, yet she steadfastly refuses to take the witness stand. As detail upon detail is revealed of her fatal attractions, the question looms whether Yates is ever going to exonerate herself, or if she can. The tactics of the prosecutor force her out.
The real and metaphorical centre of the book is the bullfight. For each character there is something which corresponds to the cape for the bull: the enticing thing which they must avoid, but they don’t. Delivered into unpardonable danger, they are tested and tried.
The novel is remarkable for telling a lush, erotic tale which has yearning for liberation at its core.
Above all, this is a story about what happens when love turns to hate and everyone turns to the law.
Leslie Hall Pinder was a courtroom lawyer in Canada for 28 years. Her ability to vividly portray the tension and vicissitudes of a trial are extraordinary.
Read the advanced comments
“The Indulgence is a gripping, powerful read. The protagonist, actress Lucinda Yates, is a compellingly original character, wonderfully impossible to categorize. She is articulate and self-reflecting; her sexuality is in free flow; she belongs to no camp. Yet she is caught in the compulsion of a ruinous, limiting relationship. Hers is an heroic struggle to escape the tragedy of falling in love with someone who does not have the capacity to return that love.”
Juliet Stevenson, British stage and screen actress (Truly, Madly, Deeply; Bend it Like Beckham; Lawrence Olivier Award, Best Actress)
“The book is wonderful, full of elegance, and the narrative — not to mention the writing — so powerful. Such story-telling. A triumph.”
Hugh Brody, filmmaker and author (Maps and Dreams, The Other Side of Eden)
“This is a powerful, blistering novel, a startling premise, a page turner, beautifully written, a novel that will remain with a – somewhat bruised – me for a very very long time. There are so many layers, such a myriad of involving and troubling themes that left me thinking way beyond the page and as I was reading I wanted everyone else to be reading it too. It isn’t often that a novel comes along that makes me feel this engaged. I literally couldn’t put the manuscript down… [A] cracking story, one that engages the reader right down to the wire.”
Gillian Stern, freelance editor in the U.K. who has worked with many well known writers and literary agents
Q: What themes in The Indulgence are particularly relevant in today’s world?
A: Perplexing questions surrounding memory continue to fascinate, divide and absorb our individual and collective attentions as men and women struggle to redeem their relationships.
Memory, and the entangled concepts it engages, rivetted our attention to the evidence of Christine Blasey Ford before the U.S. Senate at the end of September, 2018. And Kavanaugh’s denial. (As an erstwhile lawyer, I know it’s easier to assert something didn’t happen than to establish that it did. Because a negative cannot be proved, or disproved, it’s a safe perch for a Supreme Court nominee. Blasey Ford did not have such a safe place on which to stand.)
The central problem for Lucinda Yates, the actress protagonist in my new novel, The Indulgence, is that she has forgotten — repressed — the most essential, and anguished, hour of her life. It is this repression which keeps her enthralled in obsessive love. This aspect of the novel is a character study in the courage it takes to recover these lost memories in order to achieve personal freedom.
Q: One reviewer has noted that Lucinda Yates is a “compellingly original character” and that her “sexuality is in free flow.” Does that have any relevance to the #MeToo movement?
A: I believe that stereotypes of women (and of men, too) clog the discussion generated by this movement. Lucinda Yates doesn’t hide behind these stereotypes, and that gets her into a lot of trouble. When she is being prosecuted for the abduction of a neglected child, the prosecutor accuses her of arrogance, of thinking she’s above the law; that she is too unconventional. Yates has to try, mightily, to break down these stereotypes.
Q: Your main character, Lucinda Yates, also gets into trouble because she subconsciously believes that her love can change her lover. Is this an “affliction” which you believe many women have?>
A: Certainly I’ve had it. And Lucinda Yates comes to recognize that this belief has blinded her to aspects of her lover’s character. As Lucinda says: “You see? [Eva] wasn’t dangerous to me because — I would cure her. Even when I finally got away from her and made it back home, I felt invulnerable…– I was testing grace.”