In Howie’s memorable debut novel, a woman tries to seduce a reluctant prospect.
Catherine meets Alan after they have each found themselves at the end of long relationships. Over drinks and dinners together, Catherine decides to pursue a physical relationship with him, but she falls in love with him and wants something more. When Alan warns that he intends to return to his previous partner if she’ll take him back, Catherine makes a surprising decision: She will work toward a lasting love affair with Alan even if it means having to share him with the other woman. Thus begins a long con of sorts, in which Catherine tries to convince Alan he can have both women. Written in diary entries, Catherine details her manipulation of Alan as she attempts to transform her life to accommodate him. Contrary to the independent, energetic woman she had been, but in keeping with a person in love, Catherine takes Alan’s reluctance in stride. Through a painful course of seduction and persuasion, Catherine convinces Alan to consummate their romantic feelings for each other. Throughout, Alan behaves reservedly, reminding her often that she takes second place to his former lover. Howie’s lush descriptions of music and food enhance an engaging plot. The realistic portrayals of daily life add additional substance to an otherwise unflattering portrayal of people struggling with complicated relationships. Deciding whether Catherine is a freethinking feminist or a woman who shackles herself to an unwilling man adds another layer of interest.
A realistic tale of one woman’s desire to please the man she loves may alternately surprise and frustrate, but it invites discussion.