In at the Deep End
Author: Kate Davis
Publisher/Imprint: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre- a lesbian rom-com
Do you have a secret desire to be well versed in the latest queer lingo? Or get a rundown on their inside jokes? Are you curious to know how homosexual women approach each other when someone tickles their fancy? Or does your interest dip deeper, and you want to grasp the whole physical and emotional nitty-gritty of a lesbian relationship? Not because of any other reason, but just because you want to keep up with the times.
If the answer to any or all of the above questions is yes. Then, my dear pal, look no further. This book is your one-stop shop—a quick fix to all your questions.
For me, as a straight monogamous reader who is practically an alien regarding the homosexual world or the accepted lingo, this lighthearted, semiautobiographical banter by Davis turned out to be quite a discovery.
Julia is a twenty-something junior civil servant stuck in a miserable underpaid job with equally tragic and despondent sex life. More by accident than by design, Julia engages in a same-sex encounter. As luck would have it, her universe turns upside down—in an almost Cinderella-like fashion. It’s as if God reconsidered and showered her with fairy dust.
Julia jumps on the LGBTQ bandwagon with elan and gets her first taste of an earnest, romantic entanglement. From being a dud, she becomes an object of desire. People can’t seem to get enough of her—her life becomes fascinating to her co-workers and roommates. Even her old friends, who had passed her off as a lost cause, sit up and take notice.
She is ecstatic with the turn of the tide as it had always been Julia getting envious of other people’s long-term relationships.
Davis never lets things go cringy or uncomfortable, even in the intimate scenes. And there are plenty, if I may say. There is always a joke to bolster you, a flash of Julia’s wit to amuse you. Julia ponders about philosophical acuity on human relationships in the middle of passionate scenes and makes laugh-out-loud observations.
Here, I’ll take this opportunity to quote Julia’s remarks.
On a book explaining polyamory, she comments—
“I looked at the cover and almost laughed—it featured hyperreal illustrations of naked, mulleted people holding hands, apparently all orgasming in union. There was a cat, too, for some reason. The title Polyamory for Beginners: Infinite Pleasure, Minimal Pain, was in a font that looked worryingly like Comic Sans.”
While experimenting with drugs in a shady toilet with newly met strangers, she says—
“The back of the toilet cistern was cloudy with recently snorted coke. We knelt down on the floor and stroked each other’s faces. I felt lucky to find such a perfect place to sit that fitted the three of us perfectly.’’
“You have such beautiful skin- so smooth, I can really see you are a mammal.”
Amidst all the clever jokes, hilarious anecdotes, joy, and allure of Julia’s relationship, Davis tucks the pain, sorrow, and misery of being in love with an abusive and controlling partner. She makes sure that the straight reader realizes homosexual relationships are not exactly La La Land. Like any other interpersonal connection, they are complex, requiring sustained support and mutual respect. Davis normalizes LGBTQ relationships greatly and sketches them as another slice of life.
Intriguing, sarcastic, and sharp. Davis expertly balances scales of gender inequality and societal pressures with this one.
Funny, raunchy, and clever, the book is heartwarming and uplifting in some unexpected way.
With this contemporary lesbian fiction, Davis gives a modern twist to age-old definitions of power-play between couples and ties it into a romantic denouement.
The characters are all painted in vivid shades of grey. And though some are a tad darker than others, nobody comes across as a villain. As a reader, you are shown both sides of the coin and never forced to take sides.
Don’t venture near if terms like BDSM, sex clubs, and non-monogamy ruffle your feathers and put you off.
Pick it up if you consider yourself open-minded and regard books and movies as doors to uncharted realms. If not for books, how else would any of us know anything at all?
An amusing literary rom-com. It taught me more about same-sex female relationships than I thought I would ever know.
My views are from a perspective of a monogamous, straight female Homosapien, and I would love to know how the book plays out with the queer polyamorous crowd. I have rated the book purely on its engagement and entertainment quotient.