Fox’s debut epistolary novel details a relationship between a woman and two men.
The unnamed narrator, a woman who has “wanted to be a boy ever since I could remember,” seems to be in a fairly normal relationship with George. That is, at least, until a chance look at a newspaper article reveals a “bi-curious” past. George, it turns out, had a relationship in college with a man named Sasha, who grew up behind the Iron Curtain. After some detective work and Skype sessions, the three eventually form a semivolatile group. Vacationing in Odessa, that “once glamorous and proud city,” the narrator finds herself excited by the idea of George and Sasha rekindling their physical relationship. It’s not long before this rekindling leads to a variety of sexual pairings. As the book consists of a collection of letters from the narrator to Sasha, it is this leg of the trio that is most fully investigated. “Is that what you felt, dear Sasha,” the narrator wonders, “when you had sex with me with your eyes shut and your thoughts drifting away imagining a man’s body or invoking memories of the past male lovers?” After Odessa, the three eventually cohabitate on a more regular basis, even though the closest “of friends and relatives seemed to be ignorant of the nature of our relationship.” Covering sexy bits (“I would by then be on my knees, unbuttoning your jeans and working the magic with my tongue while stroking your back with my fingers”) and not-so-sexy bits (“no matter how comfy the home is, a cup of coffee with the brioche does lift one’s spirits every time”), the story makes for a balanced account. Inevitably, the sexual mingling was accompanied by emotional mingling, and both are painted in adequately bold and believable colors. At times, though, characters can appear flat, particularly George, who, outside of his familiarity with “Adamo, Aznavour, Gainsbourg, Piaf, Balzac, Stendal [sic], Hugo, Flaubert, and everybody and everything French,” seems to not bring much to the table personalitywise. The intrigued reader will wonder just how long this arrangement can last.
A mature, realistic look at a less-than-traditional relationship.