Query V. 5 - Could It Be Fifth Time Lucky?
Against the cityscape of a gender-bent Victorian Glasgow, young libertine Una dreams of travelling the world. It's surprisingly hellish, living in a matriarchy when you don't want to be a bloody matriarch. Here in 1889, respectable Scotswomen protect and provide for their households, ruling over their husband and servants with an iron cheque-book. But when Una's spectacularly fired from her office job, and her fiance's parents cancel her engagement over her debauched antics, it's plainer than her fiance's face: Una isn't fitting the mould.
A glimpse of an alternative comes, unexpectedly. <--- This line is a little confusing. I get what you're saying, but I think you can cut it. IMO, it doesn't really add anything to the paragraph and I think starting with "Una's" is a strong starting point. Una's chance meeting with feisty prostitute Otto opens her mind. Fetishized by his female buyers for his ‘exotic’ Turkish looks, Otto’s simmering with rage at a society that forces impoverished young males to become playthings for rich women. Una’s smitten by his beauty and his gutsy spirit.
As their friendship deepens, Una’s political awareness grows. Surviving deadly illness, a same-sex romantic intrigue and a bereavement together, Una and Otto find they both long to defy traditional gender roles. Maybe Otto’s university ambitions are as mad as Una’s wanderlust and distaste for motherhood. Fine. At least they can rebel together.Every time I read this, my brain skips this paragraph and jumps to the next. I think to keep things flowing and keep the reader engaged, this should be cut. The logical next step is the next paragraph.
So when an old abusive relationship comes back to haunt Otto, trapping him in a dangerous situation, Una vows to act. The odds are against Otto - medical orthodoxy believes male nerves are too dull to sense much pain, the policewomen won't listen, and anyway, female relatives have legal rights over their male ‘property’. Una's got her work cut out. As the abuse escalates, and Una accidentally worsens the situation, consequences become terrifyingly plain. Otto's life is in danger and if she doesn’t find a way to rescue him, nobody will.
THE UNWIFE, complete at 98,000 words, is feminist speculative-fiction. Darkly satirical, with diverse characters (including biracial, bisexual protagonist Otto), it’s told from two points of view. It covers similar territory to Louise O’Neill’s ‘Only Ever Yours’ and Naomi Alderman’s ‘The Power’, though with a distinctive historical twist. I’m a Scotswoman with an MA degree in Scottish Literature, who’s worked in the novel’s Glasgow setting as a Victorian re-enactor. My fiction recently won runner-up prize in the Adventures in Fiction competition, and was longlisted for the Mslexia novel prize. [Insert personalized information on why this particular agent is being queried].
Wow, this sounds like a cool book! I can't wait to see this one on a shelf =).
Overall, I think it's a good query. You tell us enough to get us interested in the story but don't give away too many details. I made a few suggestions but overall, I really like this one!