Portrait of a Crossroads
By Kelly Rand
May 20, 2013
Contemporary/Lesbian/ sort of but not really erotica
Since finding her father’s body at the bottom of the basement stairs, Annette’s been drifting through her days, watching cars pass down the rural Ontario crossroads beside her house. Her brothers have no great ambitions, but Annette remembers a time when she did. She just can’t remember what they are.
Then she meets her neighbour, Sadie, a tattooed, world-weary, newly single portrait artist. Something about Sadie awakens something in Annette—the essence she captures in her subjects, perhaps, or the way the old familiar crossroads seem so fresh and promising from the view out Sadie’s window.
Annette begins to help Sadie, cleaning brushes and filing invoices between long lazy afternoons of conversations and shared silences. Soon, though, Annette wants more from her enigmatic neighbor, and their slowly heating friendship melts into passionate nights. Somewhere along the way, Annette discovers that her lover has illuminated for her, as with the people Sadie paints, not just her essence but her own endless worlds of possibilities
I was all over this book when it came out because I loved the writing in Pearl. Like Pearl, the same style and ambience is present in this book. The author manages to get in a lot of details that set the stage for what’s going on with the main characters, but in a Zen-like, sparse way. Even though a contemporary, this story had the feel of being in an earlier time period. Maybe this due to the fact that it takes place outside a small town with not much going on. Or maybe there are a lot of similarities to the setting in Pearl, which was set in the 40’s.
Annette is an 18 year old who has just graduated high school and doesn’t feel much about the fact that it’s over. She’s was neither popular or exceptional in any way, nor was she an outcast in school. She’s just an average girl with not much going on trying to figure out what to do with her life.
Next door lives a woman whom Annette has never had contact in all years she’s lived there. Out of curiosity, and or maybe the boredom of just hanging out in her house with not much to do, for no particular reason really, she decides to go over and introduce herself after this woman’s housemate moved out.
Sadie and Annette strike up a friendship and Sadie let’s Annette come over to her house daily to help her clean up her paint brushes and such. Sadie really doesn’t talk too much about herself or her life. She neither hides nor says outright that she’s a lesbian although it’s assumed by Annette that she is. In fact, while they spend whole days together, it seems they don’t really say much to each other, yet they manage to develop a friendship. And that friendship goes to the next step when Annette offers to stay one night.
This story is all about Annette really. She doesn’t seem to be impressed or judgmental of Sadie being a lesbian; it’s just a fact. But their relationship helps her realize that she has been more interested in women even though she’s never consciously defined it internally. She had a boyfriend with whom she had sex, but in her private musings that wasn’t as exciting as the girls she thought more about. So in some ways it’s easy for Annette to just put it out there for Sadie to respond to or not.
What I liked actually was that there wasn’t much fanfare around these two women getting sexual. Even though fairly erotically written, sexually they are almost perfunctory. Sort of like “you want to do it” “OK.” I liked the simplicity of their connection because it seems to be more a step in Annette’s life versus a main event.
For the most part I loved this story, however, I was disappointed with the ending; it was kind of a WTF for me. I’ve read the reviews for this book and no one has had issue with it so maybe it went over my head? Or I wasn’t really into the whole metaphor of the story of Annette living on a crossroads street and being at a crossroads in her life but more into the developing relationship between Annette and Sadie, which was far more interesting.
Still though, I highly recommend this book. I do love the author’s style and voice. She does have a knack for writing short snap shots of characters’ lives with enough detail to suck you in and be turned on by them.
Heat level- 3-4 2 graphically written sex scenes just right for the story length.
Grade: Really liked