Don't let the title fool you: this collection of poems isn't just for women. It's for anyone who has suffered and survived any sort of abuse, inflicted by others or oneself. Beyond that, though, it's a book for anyone who believes in the ultimate triumph of poetry and the written word.
The book's cohesion recalls some of the great poem/sonnet sequences of history, especially Elizabeth Barret Browning's "Sonnets from the Portuguese." There is a definite narrative arc to these poems. Even if, as a reader, I can't relate to every single situation or emotion that crosses the page (though I CAN relate to many of them), I desperately root for the hero every step of the way. And spoiler alert, there is a happy ending.
Speaking of heroes and happy endings: unlike most modern poets, who seem to treat anything that whiffs of fantasy or fairy tale as if it's some kind of disease, Amanda Lovelace revels in such imagery, from mermaids to Harry Potter--to whom these verses are dedicated. As someone who found solace from a whirlwind childhood of chaos and divorces in the worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth, I encourage others to see these kind of stories as life boats rather than ere escape pods. And it's refreshing to find a poet who espouses the same view. Modernism and post-modernism be damned!
The verses themselves are relentlessly inventive, and playful even in addressing their most serious subjects. This brings to mind for me the mercurial e.e. cummings, right down to the mostly lowercase letters. Almost every poem concludes with an offset italicized epigram. These epigrams double as the poems' titles (as evidenced by Roman numerals at the end of a couple), but because they come at the end of the poem, they lend each verse a circular, cyclical quality, a serpent swallowing its own tail, as it were.
These titles also function like the "kireji" or "cutting word" in Japanese haiku, that mysterious quality that gives you that peculiar butterfly feeling in your stomach like you've missed a step walking down the stairs--perhaps in an effort to step over the squeaky loose stair in the Dursley residence, Harry Potter's childhood home, or the trick vanishing step in Hogwarts. So although it's easy to make it through "Princess" is a single sitting (it took me three because I'm a slow reader), there are many acorns here that can be gnawed and worried at with squirrel teeth till the end of winter.
I'd recommend Amanda Lovelace's work to almost anyone who loves poetry, but I will most definitely be prescribing it to anyone I meet who is suffering or has suffered any sort of abuse or trauma--and that's quite a lot of us. The seeds of healing lie herein. Actually, those seeds live in all of us, sometimes dormant, just waiting for the wind to blow in words that will wake us up.