Into this unsuspecting world stumbles 19-year-old Terry while chasing a salacious night with Sammy. The next morning he is introduced to Francis, his henchman Gary, and his daughter Laura. While Laura is calm and unemotional there are signs of the complexity in her thinking and possible resignation to the way her life is prescribed. As a child, she has witnessed bodies being disposed of and that threat of intolerance and malice lives with her. Her behaviour is one of preservation, yet she sees something in Terry that she clings to as different, honest maybe or even romantic attraction? Terry himself recognises his different feelings towards her.
I had only purity in mind towards Laura. Just pure love with none of the selfish, licentious immorality so acutely described by her.
Francis offers Terry a deal – he can continue to have sex with his wife, lure others to have sex with his wife, and he will ensure that he climbs the ranks in the civil service. However, he must never touch his daughter, or Francis will kill him, and Terry has no doubt in that. Laura is a young woman denied her own choices, only the choices her father makes for her. We discover later in the novel that she has harboured feelings of love for Terry for decades.
Is love, that elusive feeling that will eventually be rewarded?
I showed you a love you had never seen.
You showed me a kindness the like of which had never been.
I gave you my loyalty, trust and faith,
I gave you a love that you could taste.
The taste will stay after my death.
You will never know the same until your final breath.
Then, when we meet in some destined place,
Remember how your heart did race.
We will love for eternity and be as one,
When our earthly lives are over and done.
Daniel Kemp’s book was not what I expected, several times during the novel it caught me off guard with surprises and deep emotional contexts. Why? A complicated love – all love is complicated but none more so than that between Terry and Laura. A love that is hopeful and despairing, a love that exists in a moment and for eternity, a love reserved yet passionate, and a love that is ultimately selfless. It is a novella, but perhaps the characters of Francis and Sammy could have been developed a bit further and given more history. Perhaps even more meetings between Terry and Laura over the years to keep the memories and feelings potent would have reinforced the connection.