“Love is never simple Dad, but you should know that.”
I was really surprised by what a wonderful read this was. Having never read any Miller before, I had no idea how beautiful his prose was, nor how insightful he would be about the complexities of human relationships. I just picked this up from a table in Borders, kind of randomly. I guess sometimes the best finds are like this.
We begin with Ken, an aging writer threatening retirement and a final voyage to Venice, directly referencing Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. Ken befriends John Patterner, who tells him the story of his love for his wife Sabiha, a Tunisian beauty he met in a cafe in the poor quarter of Paris. This love story takes up much of the narrative, as we are spellbound by the ‘love-at-first-sight’ quality of the magic between John and Sabiha, and as we gradually watch it come apart as Sabiha’s longed-for child never arrives.
Broken but not shattered, they continue. And Miller tells us that while not perfect, love is enduring. Love – or is it routine? Companionship? Forgiveness certainly. Stretched to their limits, the characters are held together by the reality and the magnitude of their intimacy.
This won The Age Book of the Year for 2010. Deserves it. I’ll be thinking about it for a while yet.