Title: A Threefold Cord
Author: Julie Bozza
Publisher: Manifold Press
Released: 1st May 2014
Genre: M/M/M (Ménage)
Rating: 5 Stars
Grae Edwards and his co–stars Chris Willoughby and Ben Clyde work together well. Maybe they even have a chemistry. Certainly they are friends and Grae is tempted to ask for more … After the beautiful tart Chris has the temerity to turn him down, Grae settles into a comfortable loving relationship with the more chivalrous Ben. But the idea of Chris never quite goes away – and when Chris finally suggests the three of them spend a night together, Grae glimpses a solution he hardly dares hope for.
I’m a big fan of Julie’s May/December novel Apothecary’s Garden and getting an early review copy of her new book A Threefold Cord was a chance I just didn’t want to miss. When I saw the title I couldn’t believe my eyes. A book title derived from a bible verse? That’s an intriguing novelty, and I just had to read how Julie would weave it into her story.
Well, what can I say? It was spectacular, marvellous, wonderful, I was moved beyond words by the beauty of this story. This book was not simply a read, I lived it, breathed it, felt it and experienced it… and it’s still with me. The writing just went straight to my heart, slow and steady, and is still there.
Julie wove a wonderful, emotional story around Grae, Ben and Chris, three guys who share one passion: the love of the theatre. As actors they work together well and complement each other totally. Their private life is another story though. Chris is the one Grae wants first, but the cute ‘tart’ loves his free life too much so Grae settles down with Ben. Of course working in the same line of business means they periodically meet and all three of them can’t deny the chemistry they have and eventually one thing leads to another…
I loved the guys from the start. Grae, the story’s narrative voice, an immensely talented actor, but fraught with self-doubt and torn between his love to Ben and his attraction to Chris. Ben, handsome, generous and noble, a great actor and skilled script writer. He loves Grae wholeheartedly and oh did I suffer with him when he assumed the worst… him losing Grae to Chris. Chris, such a cheerful, carefree soul but underlying you feel his loneliness, his sadness, his need to be loved, to be trusted.
“I don’t know why you two can love me this way when no one else in my life has, but you do, and I have so much faith in you … I can see why you love each other so much, I really can, and I can see why you trust each other. All I’m asking is for you to have a little faith in me as well.”
I loved it all: the setting, the storyline, the Englishness, the theatre, Grae’s voice, his wonderful lovers Ben and Chris, even the cold spot that lingers on a landing in Ben’s apartment. :)
Ben, Chris and Grae are endearing and wonderful together, their journey to love is terrific and beautiful. How they managed to overcome their challenges to form a deep and everlasting love and to build such a strong relationship touched me deeply. It is a story with a written style and language that paints pictures, a soft, beautiful and poetic love story and a pleasure to read.
Oh, and I loved the plays. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, E.M. Forsters’s Maurice (read Mark’s review), Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II and above all Doug Wright’s wonderful ‘I am My Own Wife’, based on a true story and the life of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf a transgender person who survived the Nazi and Communist regimes in East Berlin. When Ben and Chris give Grae the pearls Charlotte always wore it reduced me to tears.
Julie is a wonderful storyteller, a gifted writer, she is a genius at weaving magical, deeply moving stories. You just can’t help falling for the beautiful narrative, the will and the courage those guys show to just make it happen, against all the odds.
“That’s three of us, bound together.”
Love is love and it appears in all colours of the rainbow. When it comes your way, you better be ready to grab it with both hands. And once you have grabbed it, hold on to it, it’s a gift that needs to be cherished and to be held dear. And read this book!!! Do away with your feelings of ‘Three is one too much’. Just think about the love those guys found. Certainly a reason to overcome prejudice, but embrace the love, run with it. Thank you, Julie for a wonderful reading experience.
Interview with Julie
Tina: Hi Julie, welcome back on SSBR. It’s lovely to have you here with us talking about your new book ‘A Threefold Cord’. It’s just awesome and I really loved it, your guys took my breath away and put a smile on my face for days. How are you feeling on the release date?
Julie: Hello, Tina! Thank you so much for having me here on Sinfully Sexy, and for being so supportive. I really appreciate it.
I am feeling very excited, I have to say – and it’s great to finally be able to read your review! Though release days can feel like a bit of an anti-climax. You build up and up to the day, and then – nothing much happens! Sales (if there are any, touch wood) are handled elsewhere. Readers (touch wood) will take their own time to read and review. That is all as it should be. But it can feel a little odd. Disconnected.
However, I imagine the excitement will continue for a while yet. I have a good feeling about this one, as long as readers enjoy or at least don’t mind about the three–way relationship.
Tina: The unique title did catch my attention immediately, it’s really exceptional to pick out a bible text as a book title. What gave you that idea?
Julie: I should say up front that I’m an atheist. However, the King James Bible is a huge influence on me in terms of its language, often indirectly through other texts such as via Handel’s Messiah. I think quotes (and misquotes!) pop up a great deal in my own writing – one of my other novels makes great use of Psalm 23, for instance. That’s probably true quite widely, though. I think many of us quote the KJB and Shakespeare a lot more often than we’re aware of. They’re simply part of a shared literary heritage.
When I was thinking about a title for this novel, I went to my Oxford Dictionary of Quotations looking up anything with ‘three’ in it. I wanted something that would suggest the three characters are stronger together than separately. Again, it’s a common idea, so I knew there’d be something. As soon as I saw the Ecclesiastes reference, I knew I was on the right track.
Tina: The second thing what baffled me was the blurb, it took me a minute to realise that I was about to read a ménage written by Julie Bozza! Wow! I’m a big ménage fan and I was just flabbergasted. How did you come up with the idea of writing a ménage?
Julie: I have to say I’m delighted (and relieved) that you are meeting the book with such enthusiasm! Thank you, Tina.
I have written about threesomes before, but not in pro fiction. There is something very seductive in the idea of polyamory; in the notion that our loves, affections and desires are large enough to encompass more than two. Also in the notion that we can be generous enough to let it happen! That we might even want it to happen for the sake of the others rather than ourselves. There’s plenty of material there for a writer to explore some of the complexities of human emotions. These three characters each have fairly traditional notions of what love ‘should’ be, but find themselves in a situation that demands a different solution.
I might also add that I’ve been writing male–male fiction for decades now, and in the past I’ve enjoyed the slightly ‘forbidden’ aspect of it; the fact that the characters were defying society’s expectations. These days, of course, that’s less and less the case – which is how it should be, of course, absolutely. But perhaps that helps explain why I might now write about relationships with a significant age difference or between three rather than two.
Tina: Did you feel like you were taking a big risk with this book? In the a-third-is-one-too-much kind of way?
Julie: I did! Although I suppose any book that we writers put our hearts and souls into will always feel like a risk. I can see that there is a definite niche for threesome stories, but it does challenge one of the most significant tropes of the ‘romance’ genre.
Tina: What was the very first idea you had for the story? I have to admit that I want to know more about this ‘edgy kind of feeling’ that there was one person too many hanging around. *nudge nudge* :)
Julie: This story did have a rather odd genesis, I have to say! I decided I’d like to try a threesome story, probably set in contemporary London. Before I’d got any further than that, before I’d even considered the characters, I decided the relationship would find its home in a huge loft apartment: somewhere that was safe and secluded, but also gave them plenty of room so there was no sense of confinement. And then the next idea I had was that there’d be a ghost, or something that might be interpreted as a ghost. I didn’t know at the time whether that would develop into a whole subplot of its own or not (it didn’t). Either way, once I understood what my Muse was telling me, I saw that the ghost was a metaphor for this sense of there being one too many people hanging around, and also for a sense of unresolved business.
Tina: Grae, Ben and Chris… *dreamy sigh*… those guys, I grew so fond of them from the very start. Who of your three guys is your favourite, Julie, and why?
Julie: I’m really happy that you like them so much! I love them all, of course, and I find Grae intriguing – but I have to say that I love Ben best. His equanimity, his gentle irony, his emotional intelligence. I wish I were more like him!
Do you have a favourite, Tina?
Tina: Hmmm… if I have to choose one… and I really don’t want to… I’d take Chris. He has that bad boy image but under all those layers of cockiness and casualness a wounded soul is hiding, a guy who wants nothing more than to be loved… Okay, I better stop here! :) *sniffs*
Julie, I have a question about the pearls Grae gets from Chris and Ben. It touched me deeply that they refer to the pearls of the German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. Can you tell us more about the reasons behind bringing them into your story? I have the feeling that they mean more to you than some theatre prop.
Julie: The pearls were a serendipitous idea, that’s for sure. Chris and Ben’s present to Grae becomes something unexpected, meaningful, thoughtful, beautiful, useful and generous. But I have to admit that beyond that, the pearls don’t have a particular significance to me personally.
I’d love to hear more about what they meant to you, Tina…?
Tina: Same here, Julie. I didn’t know much about Charlotte von Mahlsdorf except that she played a public role as a transgender woman in East Germany. These pearls though were very special. I can’t even explain why but those scenes in your book were so symbolic, emotional and touched me very deeply. Rosa von Praunheim made a film about her life I am My Own Wife and you can see she always wears these pearls.
Tina: Would you mind telling us something about ‘A Threefold Cord’ that is NOT in the blurb?
Julie: The three main characters are actors, and the story takes place over about a year. One of the things I had the most fun with was working with the ‘mini stories’ involved in the different plays, TV shows and films that the characters were each involved in. Some of these stories I borrowed from elsewhere, and others I invented. They are all relevant to the main story, in one way or another… I hope that readers enjoy these little diversions as much as I did!
Tina: What is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself while writing this book?
Julie: That’s an excellent question! I suppose … it’s that I really do believe that polyamory, where it’s a mutually consensual and emotionally balanced choice between adults, should be accepted in the wider world. I learned that it’s not just a theory for me, or a wish, but something I believe in at some fundamental level. I’m really not sure that I’ll see a change in societal acceptance for polyamory as we’ve seen for homosexuality, but maybe art can help us all imagine the unimaginable.
Tina: You were so patient with me and it’s really time that I stop pestering you, Julie, but would you allow me one last question? May I have the audacity to ask you if we have the chance to meet Grae, Ben and Chris again? Can we hope for a follow-up? *holds breath*
Julie: You’re very kind to want more, Tina! I have to say that I don’t have anything in particular in mind for these three – though I love them to bits, and I’ve learned to never say never. I’m really glad to know there would be at least one reader for a sequel, though maybe you’d better not hold that breath, hon!
Tina: It’s been lovely having you with us today Julie, thanks for answering my nosy questions and good luck with your wonderful new book. Hopefully you will be stopping by for another visit soon. Btw… June isn’t so far away and it will be lovely to meet you in person at the UK meet in Bristol. It’s going to be epic! :)
Julie: Thank you so much, Tina, for your warm welcome and for your support. I’m really looking forward to doing this in person very soon. It is going to be epic indeed – starting with the hug!
About the Author
I was born in England, and lived most of my life in Australia before returning to the UK a few years ago; my dual nationality means that I am often a bit too cheeky, but will always apologise for it.
I have been writing fiction for almost thirty years, mostly for the enjoyment of myself and my friends, but writing is my love and my vocation so of course that’s where my dreams and ambitions are.
In the meantime, technical writing helps to pay the mortgage, while I also have fun with web design, photography, reading, watching movies and television, knitting, and imbibing espresso.
Connect with the Author
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