Friday, October 07, 2011

Book review: Be Mine

Be Mine by Laura Kasischke
Harvest, Orlando
  Be Mine
Be Moved
Be Mine by Laura Kasischke is a story about Sherry Seymour: a middle-aged English professor, a wife of twenty years and a mother-turned-empty nester. Sherry is content in her average, middle-aged life. But this is not an average, middle-age story. On Valentine’s Day, Sherry finds a note in her inbox scrawled with the words, “Be mine.” The idea of a secret admirer titillates Sherry’s imagination, and her husband’s loins. Excited by the idea of his wife being the focus of another man’s amorous intentions, Jon encourages Sherry to seek out her petitioner. As the notes become more frequent and intense, the notion of a lover settles nicely into Mrs. Seymour’s psyche. Through some seductive reasoning and a strong implication from her son’s childhood friend, Sherry finds her man and begins her libidinous affair. Laden with post-coital guilt, Sherry confesses her adulterous trysts to her husband. And he likes it! He even asks her to talk about it while he has sex with her. And she does. Spreading herself [thin] between her possessive lover and her perpetually aroused husband, Sherry finds her behavior makes her feel extremely sexy, slightly bamboozled and a little sore. The “coitus descriptus” is enough to bring any middle-aged woman out of menopause, with descriptions steamier than night sweats in July.
“He kissed my shoulder, where he’d bitten me before. He ran his tongue down the inside of my arm to the elbow. He moved down to my legs, kissed the skinned knees – first the left, which had begun to heal, and the right, which stung under his lips and made me flinch. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, then moved back up, kissed my shoulder again, and then moved down my arm, from the elbow to my wrist. He kissed it. He bit it lightly. He took the wrist in his hand and pinned it over my head, then the other. He said…”
I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination, although Kasischke fills in the gaps graphically.
Sherry Seymour continues with her double-duty sex life while the winter melts into spring. She seems to show little remorse from her infidelity, admitting she is having fun; besides what’s the harm if her husband doesn’t mind?
Meanwhile Sherry struggles with her maternal guilt. Her son, Chad returns from college and she doesn’t recognize the boy in the man before her. Kasischke’s poetic and heartfelt descriptions of the mother-child relationship are spot on. She is able to capture the subtle nuances of motherhood in concise and effective passages. The dichotomy of philandering wife to devoted mother creates a sense of unrest, ultimately adding to the brilliantly built suspense of the novel. Kasischke erects a solid, likeableness in Sherry Seymour. When Sherry’s husband takes his fantasies to a new, dangerous level, sympathy for Sherry swells. Both men involved demand more of Sherry, sending her life into a tailspin that threatens her job, her marriage and her son.
Be Mine is an erotic and poignant novel, with a building suspense that erupts in an unforgettable and unexpected climax.