The title of UK author, Karen Roderick’s debut novel made me want to read it. A Love That Makes Life Drunk… Sigh, do you remember feeling that way about it? Do you remember a time when there was nothing but love and how it and great sex made you see the world in a different way; hear, smell, taste, and feel everything in the almost indescribably delicious manner that you’d never experienced before, and how you could barely recall those sensations when that love was long gone?
As I started reading, I fell in lust with this scandalous book. The author, who is an unabashedly girly girl with a cerise-coloured naughty streak, as well as writer of the blog, The English Writer, has created my kind of dream guy in her main character, Jefferson James Howie, and it is through his eyes that we witness the love that makes his and Lillian “Lily Ellen” Mills’ lives drunk. Jefferson is a bit of a bad boy, who is always alluring: a handsome, elegant, sophisticated, successful London author; an intellectual with a wildly romantic streak who appreciates every last infinitesimal detail of the beautiful, young, intelligent and very sexy redhead (she’s a Masters student in the History of the Book) that he should not be falling in love with because she’s 12 years his junior and his brother’s girlfriend.
“I thought about why Lily’s parents potentially detest me. It could be the fact I’m 37 and she’s just 25, or that I’ve been sleeping with their daughter knowing she’s in a relationship with my brother; I imagine it’s both, topped off for good measure with the vulgarity of my novels and my occasionally arrogant and pretentious column.”
Jefferson Howie is in turmoil…deeply handsome, intelligent and successful, he is a man used to getting what he wants, that is, except the one thing he really wants – his brother’s beautiful girlfriend Lily.
Through a series of cleverly orchestrated meetings, Jefferson detaches himself from guilt to tempt Lily into his arms. Silently but deliriously, they collide against the back drop of the love letters of Anais Nin and Henry Miller. But is blood thicker than love and desire? With Jefferson’s sexy and charming narration, and Lily’s intensely emotional and sexually explicit Journal, we witness the honest and raw account of two people falling in love.
Karen Roderick has put so much love and effort, not to mention herself, into the creation of these lovers that the authenticity of the story is flawless. These are people who love to read (Miller, Nin, and Salinger), write, enjoy good food and fine wine, listen to music, travel to Paris and talk for hours about things they are interested in. I’ve been looking for a man like Jefferson Howie my whole life! However, I’m not a gorgeous natural redhead who has men buying expensive pink satin corsets for me, although I’m sure Playboy’s Miss May 1972, Deanna Baker – on whom Lily’s character was based – certainly was.
A Love That Makes Life Drunk is not the chick lit I expected it to be. It’s far too sexy and raw for that. In fact, it’s erotica, disguised as chick lit with a pale pink, innocent cover. Be aware of this and be discerning when recommending the book to friends. It’s a bit much for teenagers and should come with a sexually explicit warning label. Jefferson and Lily’s story is enchantingly electric with erotically charged, carnal, corporeal foreplay that leaps off the page. You will feel “clammy in the aftermath of their spectacular collision!”, that is, if you are comfortable with reading erotica, and I am.
However, I noticed my feelings about the book changing, the further I got into it. Like the love that makes Lily and Jefferson’s lives drunk, their story is just a little too over the top for my comfort, but that’s because I’m cynical when it comes to trusting men and believing in that kind of love. Roderick’s descriptions of their feelings for each other are too repetitive and go too far, making you feel as if you’ve completely overdosed on the sugar in those pink cup cakes that Lily is so fond of. Her use of journals as a way to reveal the past lives of the main characters, while done so in homage to Anäis Nin and Henry Miller, are cliché, and although the writer and Jefferson Howie are convinced that Lily’s journal is a brilliant masterpiece of literature, it’s just not. She’s no Anäis Nin and I have no idea how, realistically, Howie was able to make so much money (to pay for their £1.5 million Cotswold farmhouse or their chic, two bedroom Paris apartment) selling his writing either – imagination is definitely needed here. But then again, regular columnists for newspapers like The Independent or The Daily Mail in London earn quite a substantial salary and they’re not literary geniuses either.
Karen Roderick is a very courageous, distinctive writer and I applaud her for staying true to her vision. It is obvious that she is totally in love with Jefferson Howie and Lily Mills and I only hope their story is a reflection of her own happy union. Writing a book is a monumental accomplishment and she should be proud of her achievement. Learn all about her inspirations for the book at pinkcupcakes.typepad.com.
A Love That Makes Life Drunk left this chronically single woman with a hangover; which means I had a lot of fun reading it even if it wasn’t good for me. That being said, I am definitely a fan of Karen Roderick’s writing and can’t wait for her next book!