What is love? Smith’s novel poses the question, considers multiple answers, and then allows readers to decide for themselves.
One possible answer is explored through Howard and Kiki’s relationship. They have been married for thirty years. They know and understand each other so well that a simple facial expression speaks volumes of information. They have similar senses of humor and are equally invested in the upbringing of their children. They allow one another the freedom to do whatever it is they want to do with their lives—almost. Howard pushes the boundaries. He has a serious weakness when it comes to sex with other women. But even after Kiki finds him out, she is willing to forgive him, despite the objections from her children. For Kiki and Howard, that is what love is all about. This is true, to a point. When Kiki thinks Howard just slipped one night and that was all there was to it, she is able to forgive and go on. However, when Kiki discovers that Howard has had a three-week affair with a mutual friend, she cuts him off, but not totally. She allows Howard to continue to live in the house. But Howard gives in to temptation again, this time with a girl younger than his own daughter. Kiki has had enough. Or has she? In the final chapter, Kiki sits in the audience while Howard gives a presentation. She smiles. It seems to be a loving expression. For Howard and Kiki, love is enduring despite betrayal.
Defining “what love is” is different for the Belsey’s oldest son, Jerome. Jerome falls in love with Victoria Kipps. At least, he thinks he has fallen in love. He mistakes sex for love. He confuses passion for love. Passion is a part of love but it is not the foundation. First, both people have to feel it, and Victoria definitely does not. Secondly, love needs to be strong enough to endure challenges like the ones Howard and Kiki are facing. Jerome is infatuated. He would like to be in...
(The entire section is 800 words.)