Cath sets the bar high.
She expects a lot from her partners, her friends and herself. This is what she learns to let go of in the enjoyable novel, Art Of Magic, by KJ.
She also has trust issues as we find when she still doesn’t have faith in her mother accepting her sexuality, or when she’s quick to pass judgement on her romantic interest, Rica. But when her father is admitted to hospital with a brain tumour, Cath begins her journey toward acceptance of others, and herself.
There’s a charming flirtation scene when she meets Rica.
Cath first notices Rica while at a teachers conference, and that evening, bumps into her at a bar. What follows is sophisticated banter in that honest way we’ve all experienced when there is a mutual attraction with someone else. You can both feel it so there’s nothing holding either of you back from innuendo. It’s not dirty. It’s playful and adult because both of you know you won’t be judged. This is beautifully portrayed in this scene.
The meaning of the title comes left-of-field.
So much so that Cath herself does an extensive Google search to clarify it. I’m not going to add a spoiler here, but as the story continues, the concept is used to great effect.
One example leads to an inspired foreplay-come-sex scene which as I read, found I was subconsciously rubbing my woolly-sock-clad-foot against my husband’s who was next to me, also reading. And that’s the weird part. The sensuality worked on this unsuspecting gay reader in a way I’d never have expected.
And then the concept behind the title is used again.
Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but the result was beautifully poetic. Cath’s feelings of love are expressed in thought for a particular reason, and her fears and the full extent of the words ‘I love you’ are explored. This is inspired prose which makes me keen to read more of KJ’s work.
And speaking of prose, one character talks about how couples in love have transcended its meaning. They, themselves, are the meaning. I’ve paraphrased on purpose, because the original text resonated with me, and I don’t want to spoil it for others who’ll pick up this book.
In this review, I’ve said nothing about the other plot points in the story – the dramas inside the school they work in or the leap in family acceptance, the latter centred on Cath’s issues, not her parents. I’ll leave that to you, dear reader, to discover.