Love, if that’s what it is
A subtle mosaic novel about love and fidelity in the twenty-first century
In her third novel, Marijke Schermer shows what love can do. The book moves with speed and has a well-constructed plot. With its frequent shifts in perspective, the relationships between characters constantly take on different hues.
After twenty-five happy years, Terri has come to see her marriage and family life as a prison. She begins having an affair and ultimately leaves her husband, David, who tries to save what’s left to be saved. Meanwhile, their teenage daughters feel the solid ground beneath their feet rapidly disappear.
Terri is a control freak who deals in disciplinary remarks; at the same time, however, she submits herself to her new lover, who arouses her sexually and treats her like his prey. David, who has always been faithful to his first love, takes advantage of his undesired freedom to cook extensively for his daughters. Via a dating site, he meets the liberated Sev and ends up sleeping with her; but she’s not interested in a long-term relationship.
The adults seem unable to achieve what they desire — a state in which sex, intimacy, insight and nostalgia are not separate but one. In other words, love. The most promising are the two daughters, twelve-year-old Ally and fifteen-year-old Krista, who have yet to discover what love really is. As they try to figure it out, they are forced to deal with their parent’s strange antics and their own hormonal urges.
Schermer is especially strong when it comes to intimate portrayals of family love. While watching a police series with her father on the couch, her feet in his hands, Ally ‘wiggles her toes to remind him to press his thumbs into her soles, which he then does.’ Imagine her father walking out on her too!
Love, if that’s what it is, is a must-read for anyone struggling to find love in their marriage or thinking about breaking up their family or stay in it, if only for the kids.