Thirst depicts the story of Dave; a large, gentle and sensitive department store security guard who detains and releases a young Serbian woman when caught shoplifting. He is immediately drawn to her, pulled in by her beauty and mannerisms and she in turn is seeking a warm face and safety. This is indeed a love story, but not in the Mills and Boon milieu! Hudson is a great wordsmith, bringing the reader’s attention to the lives that are classed as “marginalized” but are in fact, the lives of everyday people. People like Alena who live in poverty with hopes and dreams of a better life in London so she is able to send money home to her mother, or like Dave who works day and night with the dream of leaving the estate to go traveling. It is their desperation for connection and security which fuel their love and desire to leave their pasts buried.
Hudson is highly observant of people, in fact, I’d be cautious about visiting her jaunts in the fear of her studying your every move as she’d no doubt be doing and peeling away your skin in order to reach your soul. She is unflinching and doesn’t pull any punches as she settles into the atrociousness that surrounds sex trafficking; the psychological and physical traumas that come with the trade.
Whilst this is a rather dark novel, with its lusting title; a thirst for freedom, love, escape, it is brutal, harsh and yet positive. These two characters have nothing more to lose until they meet each other, but still, the smell of survival permeates the pages as you chant and root for them with edge of the seat enthusiasm. One keeps trying to imagine how they would react to the same situation had they been placed in it; would we be able to fight our oppressor? In this case, the men who abuse Alena and make her find and trick women into sex work, or like Dave who had all his dreams squashed by the actions of others? The plot is engaging, gripping, harrowing and beautiful within all its grittiness. These are only a few reasons why Thirst should sweep up as many awards as possible.
Thirst is published by Chatto &Windus £12.99