Opening up Chloe Thurlow’s Katie in Love is a lot like slipping into the perfect bath after a long, hard day. It’s the perfect temperature, warm enough to make you sweat. The water is the most gorgeous shade of lavender– no, not lavender, but instead Katie’s signature pink. There are rose petals floating in the water, candles lit all around; the air is deliciously humid, floral with hints of something darker– leather, maybe, or sandalwood. Best of all, the bath is drawn in one of those gorgeous old tubs with the claw feet, but it’s big enough that your whole body can sink down into it, right up to the bottom lashes of your eyes.
It probably sounds like I’m romanticizing Thurlow’s work– but I’m not. There’s something incredibly intimate about Katie in Love that does all of the romancing for me. There were times when reading Katie left me feeling like I had just seen the author naked– and Chloe, if you’re reading this, consider me seduced. There’s a definite sense of voyeurism to the piece, a floaty realism that leaves one wondering how much of the story is fact and how much is fiction. Katie in Love is both erotic and elegant, delicate but bold.
It’s a hell of a story, in the most classic sense of the word. They just don’t write books like this anymore. Thurlow spins a tale like she’s traveled to us from a classier time to bring fine literature to the masses.
The primary plot is basic– as basic as all love stories are, when you get right down to it. Katie Boyd meets sex bomb doctor Tom Bridge at a New Year’s eve party and they do the deed; a romance blossoms, a bond is formed, the sex is magnificent and the banter is to die for. But Katie is no simpering Austenesque regency heroine who can’t step out in the rain without catching a deadly cold. She’s an intellectual, a former catholic school girl with a naughty side. Katie meets her friends at lesbian bars, writes erotic novels and forms trysts with her tutors that are just as educational in the books as they are naked, on top of them. And Tom is no General Hospital extra, either– he’s running a non-profit for children in Sri Lanka and running away from the kind of ex-girlfriend that every one of us fears deep down inside.
The thing about this book is that it’s honest, honest in the most fascinatingly baring ways. It’s not just Katie that one feels emotionally entangled in after reading; it’s Thurlow as well, her writing, her poetic patterns of speech and her particular way of teasing out the most intimate of details with her words.
You’ll never read another book like it again– and it’s ripe for a second read.