With the Kisses of His Mouth
With the Kisses of His Mouth is a title which leaves me cringing, but it is a memoir which has entertained, enthralled and enlightened me as Monique Roffey reveals the pain love can cause but also the value sex can have.
For her third book, Roffey has candidly written a memoir of the most recent chapter of her life. She begins with her discovery of the betrayal of the man she loved and with whom she had shared a life for six years. The explosive ‘letter bomb’ is sent from the lover of her ‘X’, which proves to be not only the beginning of the end but also the beginning of the next chapter of her life: she is left sick of love and decides to awaken her sexual demons. But once the beast has been woken, she discovers, it does not just roll over and think of England anymore.
She begins by allowing the reader to witness her at her most vulnerable – at the discovery of this betrayal. From this point onwards, one cannot help but sympathise and encourage her on her journey. Roffey escorts us with her on a remarkable quest to discover what the world has to offer a 40-something woman exploring her sexuality. She retells her discoveries of the Casual Encounters section on Craigslist to her experiences at tantric sex workshops and how they aided her to heal her broken heart – or at least how they helped her distract herself with orgasms. Though isn’t that the point of sexual odysseys?
Roffey is frank and amusing throughout, creating an absorbing flow mostly uninterrupted, apart from her penchant for lists. Roffey lists anything and everything and whilst exposing the more logical and organised side of her character, they upset the rhythm of the book.
Another oddity in Roffey’s work is the explicit disapproval of books with pink covers designed to attract female readers: the choice of a rather pink cover for her own book is rendered a little strange. Though the image on the cover may explain the chosen colour: it is rather reminiscent of the female pudenda – a warning, perhaps, for the reader of the many mentions of her ‘beautiful cunt’.
Roffey’s candour might make some men squirm, despite the fact that they may gain a sincere insight into the female mind. Though it seems to me that the more information men are given on the female psyche the more confused they become. The reader is also treated to Roffey’s own musings on the male consciousness and their misdirected energy – also known as unwanted staring or perving. However, if she clarifies anything, it is most definitely: don’t worry, it only seems kinky the first time.
With the Kisses of His Mouth provides a fascinating perspective on attitudes to sex in the twenty-first century and questions what is socially acceptable for an open-minded person to be getting up to. Indeed, the reader may come to think that we all need our own sexual odyssey… of some sort.
With the Kisses of His Mouth by Monique Roffey; Simon & Schuster; ISBN 978-0-85720-429-5; hardback; £14.99