Is it Love?
a triangle gone square
Perfect Bound Softcover
Journey through Greg's struggle to obtain his mother's love, in their dysfunctional relationship, spawned by the unresolved abandonment issues she harbours from the loss of her love for his father,
-his struggle to reject Bernice, whose betrayal wounded him and left him feeling more deserted by his mother who likens his relationship with Bernice, the mother of his son, to that of his own dead beat father, and
-his struggle to maintain his forbidden love for Larna against all odds, until that fate-filled day which left him feeling abandoned, confused and unloved.
As each live their lives in isolation and secrecy, an unforeseen event reshapes their reality and brings them to the crossroads of life that changes them forever. And when it seemed like things could not get any worse, Greg's grandmother, Brenda, reveals an age-old secret at the dawn of death.
... In a final attempt to persuade the love of her life to give her one more chance at love with him, she spoke as softly and clearly as she could.
“Greg, you can have any other woman you want if you don’t want to have me alone. I wouldn’t mind, as long as you keep me as your home girl. I want to be yours and yours only. I don’t want any other man. All I need is for you to want me. I really don’t care if I am not the only one you date, but please, all I ask is one last chance.”
Her desperation eclipsed her wisdom and she was prepared to accept second best. And if that meant settling for only a part of Greg, she was willing to accept whatever she got.
Greg shook his head in repudiation. His heart broke into a thousand pieces when he heard Bernice’s final plea. He wanted so much to shout out ‘yes’ to her, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t tell her the truth behind his refusal either. ...
... “Are you sure you know what you’re doing, Greg?” Larna asked and laughed as hard as she possibly could.
Greg looked at Larna, a bit embarrassed at the fact that he was unable to cook well on his own. Not even the country escapades with his friends – Trevor et al – had prepared him sufficiently to woo his girlfriend with some appetizing treats. He looked at the mess he had made in the pan and felt embarrassed.
“That’s not the way I envisioned this,” he said ashamedly. “I saw this coming out differently. The chicken is not supposed to be so black. And I can’t even smell the Curry powder. I’ve watched my mother do this over and over and not once did this happen. Watch; I can’t even see the... This looks like mashed potatoes to me. There are supposed to be hard chunks.”
Larna peeped into the pan of potatoes sautéed in a mixture of curry powder and oil and was surprised at the appearance. It looked as if they were finely mashed and mixed like porridge. She then looked over into the pan of chicken in a similar curry powder and oil mixture, a prerequisite for making the Trinidad-famous and St. Lucia-altered, Roti, and was even more shocked to find that there was no yellow or orange colour which would normally appear when the mixture was done properly.
Larna burst into laughter as she watched a humiliated Greg cling onto the spoon in hand. “Baby, it’s ok. Don’t feel sad. You know I will eat it even if it kills me,” she tried to restrain herself from saying. But the humour in the statement was too good to allow evading her thoughts.
Greg didn’t find any humour in her statement. He didn’t smile.
Larna turned around and held Greg and said, “Let’s do it together now. It’s almost done and I really don’t care if you are not able to perfect the Roti. I love you regardless.”
“Oh so now you love me? A while ago you were making fun of my cooking,” Greg said grudgingly.
“Don’t sweat it my love, you know that I honestly will eat the food whether it’s good or bad. And don’t be mistaken, I will let you know if it’s bad, but I would ingest it regardless.”
“Well thank you,” Greg forced out sarcastically, still evidently embarrassed at the ordeal.
He had never cooked for a girl before and for some unknown reason, it was as if he was holding the future of his relationship with Larna in the success of his cooking.
“Don’t be dismayed, I am not making fun of you, Greg. C’mon, you can’t take this that seriously.”
Greg inhaled deeply then exhaled. “I guess I was just trying too hard to please you again. Sometimes I feel like I have to work extra hard to keep you.”
“What are you talking about? I am not going anywhere. I am here to stay, Greg. You have to stop trying to get me to stay and start enjoying me because I am already here. I am already staying. I am yours, boy. Don’t you get it? I am yours.” Larna kissed him tenderly on his lips. “Nothing and no one can take you away from me, not even your terrible cooking. And, well, let’s hope that looks are indeed deceiving and this Roti will taste better than it looks,” Larna burst out laughing.
Greg joined her in a hearty laugh and then said teasingly, “You know, I really hope that this Roti doesn’t kill either of us. Wait until I mix the potatoes with the chicken. Let’s see what a mess it all becomes them.”
The two lovers laughed at the ignominious cooking debacle. After eating what turned out to have tasted good enough for consumption and a pass for a first try, they spent the rest of the day lying next to each other on the chair in the living room. They soon fell asleep and didn’t wake up until it was after 6:00pm. ...
Stephen Alexander Dantes was born on December 12th 1982, on the beautiful Caribbean island of Saint Lucia to a loving mother, Marcella Dantes. He is a prolific writer with a number of published poetry titles to his name, both digital and hardcopy. The 29 year-old Saint Lucian poet, and now novelist, is a certified Mathematics teacher who resigned from his teaching profession to embark on his quest to take his poetry to the world.
He holds the title of "Voice of the Youth" in his homeland and is the 2011 recipient of the "Most Requested Guest Performer Award," awarded by the Saint Lucia Writer's Forum. Saint Lucia presently boasts two Nobel Laureates; Sir William Arthur Lewis (Nobel Prize for Economics) and Derek Alton Walcott (Nobel Prize for Literature), both born on the same day, January 23.
Is it Love is an all embracing novel that goes further than being your typical novel. It is a portrait of the life of a young man whose journey through life is influenced by the decisions of his parents and foreparents. It is many a time said that we are the fruit of our parents actions; the truth of this statement is so clearly laid out in this novel. And this condition rules true, unless we recognize these transgenerational `curses' and break them before they are allowed to control our lives. Greg was the victim of this `curse' - a victim of the many faces of love; these faces/representations of love that are seen take form in the lives of Greg and the other characters who are part of this web; it is these many faces of love (storge, philia, eros, agape) that influence the decisions and actions of the characters.
Stephen vividly portrays Caribbean/St. Lucian life in a manner that the local reader can reminisce and identify with the events, places, cultural interactions and customs. The fellow Caribbean folk can also identify with the way of life of the persons in the novel - alas, you live in one island, you practically live in all. The international reader gets an introduction into the essence of Caribbean life; gets the opportunity to look through the window which he has cracked open and into our Caribbean lives - to walk along the streets of Babonneau and Castries, anticipate the standpipe moments (aah - that water used to taste really good straight from the pipe) and enjoy Christmas celebrations in Saltibus and carnival fetes. The International reader also has the opportunity to get into the Caribbean mind and life; to understand the customs that weave the patterns of Caribbean life. Stephen does a great job of transporting us (regardless of nationality or social strata) to the Caribbean life.
Apart from the sociocultural insight, the writer opens our minds, our hearts to a plethora of emotions. Honestly, I was so moved that at the end of the novel - torn and deeply involved in the struggles of the characters (ha I think a little too much so). I wanted to fight Greg's battles for him and wanted to shake sense into his mother on that fateful night. Oh if only...Comprehension the emotions within the novel is not limited to the Caribbean sea - each one of us (local, Caribbean and international) can identify with the emotions experienced by the characters. We end up, during reading, fighting for the characters, speaking for them and sharing their struggles. The novel opens our minds to the difficulties of single parenting, the bliss of young love, inter familial disputes, the repercussions of gossip, the selfish destructive actions of wounded hearts and the exploration of love and infatuation in all their shades . My heart actually goes out to Greg - wish he did not have to go through these struggles - wish that he had had the strength to loose himself from these transgenerational curses - wish for so many things, but alas...
On completing the novel, one is still in anxious suspense; the question Is it Love can only be answered once certain key responses are go
BOOK REVIEW by Chantal J Antoine
When Stephen first asked me to read the first manuscript for his novel-Is it love?, I felt so humbled and grateful to be asked to share in his journey. I have always greatly admired Stephen's writings and his tenacity as an author.
As a budding writer myself, I always found inspiration from Stephen's gutsy renderings that have motivated me to dig deeper as a writer.
IS IT LOVE? WOW! How great it feels to see the finished book that Stephen has so painstakingly crafted into what I deem," a real emotional and psychological roller coaster ride". I sometimes think of this story as our own Lucian "Romeo and Juliet" portrayal of an eternal subject- LOVE!
The characters in this book are so familiar that you think you are reading about your own friends and family- you almost smile as you think of who you know reminds you of some of the characters as well as circumstances.... You can easily connect and relate to the issues, mannerisms and reactions to life's unexpected blows that unfold itself in each scene and each chapter. The issues described in this story although universal in nature, are so typical of our very own St. Lucian culture that many will relate to perfectly.
Stephen's poetic language enraptures you as he delves into romantic decadence and his vivid description of familiar towns, beaches, streets, sounds and smells awaken your senses as you turn the pages of this book.
The book is very easy to read, a definite page turner. Stephen will leave you in suspense as he craftily moves into nostalgic thoughts of his characters in order to render the full picture. I especially liked the slang and local colloquial used that so characterize St. Lucians. Using patois and "broken English" truly gave the book a Lucian character that I'm afraid "non-lucians" not quite familiar with the language- may not be privy to the full comprehension and meaning of such beautiful complexities portrayed in those pages.
This tragic story about love is compelling, heart-wrenching and it hits at the core of every person who have ever experienced love or rather the "tragedies" of love. It will make you angry, happy, sad, furious, overjoyed and salivating for more...
This story although marred with great tragedy, the unexpected finality, gives one introspective hope despite the inconsolable damage, hurt and pain which one has experienced in oneself.
In the end, IS IT LOVE? - a question everyone of you will have little choice but to deduce your own answers...
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Perfect Bound Softcover
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