One of my highlights from 2015 for The Australian Women Writers reading challenge was The Dangerous Bride by Lee Kofman.
What do you do when your husband claims to be madly in love with you, but doesn’t desire you sexually? When your therapist is more interested in opening an online sex-toy shop with your husband than in saving your marriage? Do you try yet another counsellor, get divorced or settle for a sexless marriage?
Lee Kofman, rebellious daughter of ultra-orthodox Jews, has always sought her own way. True to her Bohemian dream where love can coexist with sexual freedom, she decided to experiment with an open marriage … despite the fact that her previous non-monogamous relationship ended in disaster.
Our cultural mores suggest that love without monogamy is impossible, but Lee hoped she could do better the second time round and embarked on a personal exploration to find out whether she could save her marriage while being non-monogamous in an ethical way. For several months she talked to swingers, polyamorists, cross-dressers, suburban families, artists and migrants—in short, to anyone who has ever been involved in an unconventional relationship.
Set during Lee’s first years in Australia, it is also the story of migration, and an exploration of the eternal conflict between our desire for security, but also for foreign places—in love and elsewhere. The Dangerous Bride tells the story of her quest.
Wow is what I thought throughout all of the book. Kofman’s description of her life is quite something. She describes herself in great detail. But not only herself, also other people who come into her life. Lovers, partners, family and friends.
This book packs a punch because it is topic is something unconventional, and perhaps may not appeal to some people. Having said that though I think her thoughts are well worth reading. Her prose is so descriptive and really beautiful.
She gives details of her own personal experiences and then weaves in other people’s stories and experiences; which combine well to make it a really interesting read.
Here are a collection of some of my favourite passages from the latter part of the book:
Melbourne’s rain was more a beautician than a nurse. It rendered the city marvellous, smoothing its fidgety electronic advertisements, filling the streets with myriad reflecting surfaces.
Australia liberated me of pretence. Here, foreigners were tolerated better and, anyway, no effort would eliminate my accent when I spoke in English. For that, I was too old.
I also found English a language of dreams, fog, romance. Speaking it softened me, slowed me down. I liked myself better when I spoke English, even if I often failed at it.
Several days later, he called my mobile. The ring had the sound of salvation.
My relationships hardly ever ended in a clear-cut way. They wouldn’t simply go, but danced themselves away in tango steps, swaying forward and backward, backward and forward.
It is possible to understand people’s life choices better when you consider what they are prepared, or not, to tolerate.
I urged everyone to write about the world as they saw it, rather than how it was supposed to be.
Seeing couples in love always made me feel hopeful. I wanted to linger here, bask in them.
Lee Kofman is the Israeli–Australian author of three fiction books in Hebrew. Her short fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry in English has appeared around the world in Best Australian Stories, Best Australian Essays, Griffith Review, Heat, Westerly, Creative Nonfiction (US), Brand (UK) and Malahat Review (Canada) among many others. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards for her writing, including an Australian Council grant and a Varuna Flagship Fellowship. She holds an MA in Creative Writing (University of Melbourne) and a PhD in Social Sciences (RMIT). Lee has been mentoring writers and teaching writing classes for over ten years. She also blogs about the writing process and her blog was a finalist for Best Australian Blogs 2014.