I've really liked what of read of Carter before this book - mostly her short stories (and I don't read much in the way of those these days, which says something) and the novel Wise Children. This is something else again though. It has a hard edge, a viciousness, that I haven't seen in her other writing.
The writing itself is technically excellent, and expressive, but it carries with it an air of disgust and grubbiness - somehow, I felt as if I needed a wash after I'd been reading it. If evoking a feeling of filth and degradation was what the author was going for, she succeeds very well indeed.
The story takes place in an alternative post WWII USA. A young Englishman named Evelyn arrives in a chaotic, disintegrating New York and meets the fascinating, enigmatic Leilah. His relationship with her eventually sends him on a journey across the desert, where he is captured by the women of Beulah and surgically transformed into a woman. Eve then has a series of traumatic adventures across the politically collapsing country, in what I'm fairly sure is supposed to be an allegorical journey of some kind, the point of which eluded me.
In fact, I'm afraid the point of the whole book eluded me - basically, I felt it was saying - or possibly just trying to say - something profound about gender, feminism and politics but that I'm either too dim or too uninformed to grasp what that thing might be.