Enemy Queen by Robert Steven Goldstein is an interesting new novel. I cannot exactly say in which genre category I would put it in… perhaps general fiction, or mystery? It is certainly adult fiction.
Well, well, well… this is quite a unique book. I enjoyed it very much. There were moments when I got a bit bored and wanted to put it down for a moment, however, in general, the book was engaging, fun and interesting.
The story follows two friends: Professor and Counselor. They are both older men (age isn’t specified, but I guess around fifty years old). They both have a few failed marriages behind them. So, when the Counselor had moved to their little town a few years ago, it had been natural for them to move in together after quickly becoming good friends. They found many common interests, the most pronounced ones being wine and chess. Throughout the years they had built an enjoyable routine for themselves. After coming back from work they would cook together, drink wine (and sometimes bourbon) and play chess. As they spent so much time together, their love lives had been pushed to the side. Until one evening, while enjoying a bottle of wine, they jokingly started talking about sex. They agreed that after all the women they had, not one of them was truly their friend.
„Do you realize, Counselor, that all our sexual problems would be solved if we were gay? Think about it. We’d play chess, drink wine, have dinner, read or whatever, and then we’d have sex before bed. We’d be a self-contained unit. We wouldn’t need anybody else.“
They had discussed it a bit but came to the conclusion that they simply couldn’t do it since they were heterosexual. And that was the moment they had an idea that would change their lives forever. The idea was to find a willing young woman that they could share and through her, the two of them would be together. Fast forward, they’d found a woman named Victoria, however, their happiness didn’t last. Very quickly the two men found out that Victoria wasn’t what they bargained for.
„Well, it’s time! We have drunk and procrastinated long enough. The moment has come to get naked and engage in debauchery!“
One of the main reasons I enjoyed this book is the peak I got into the relationship between the two men. Since the author of the book is a man I paid better attention to the dynamic they had.
I found the character development great, but exclusively to male characters. The women felt one-dimensional and almost as the encapsulated a singular stereotype about women. The best example is Victoria herself. Her personality is based only on the fact that she is sexually emancipated. We are presented with the fact that she is incredibly intelligent and a writer, but none of that is actually shown. However, the story is told from the Counselor’s point of view, so we are only presented with the image of Victoria he has.
The presentation of women does evolve and by this, I actually mean the Counselor’s view of women, in this case.
I especially liked the chess metaphors used in this book. They were both educational (for someone who’s not that good at playing chess) and well-executed.
The ending of the book was a wild ride… I can’t say I’m satisfied with it. It was a bit unbelievable and idyllic to be real. Also, even though I understand it was supposed to represent character development in our two main characters, I dislike how their stories ended.
This author is a nice discovery for me. I sincerely wasn’t expecting much, but I am pleasantly surprised. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something different and new. This book explores the evolution of a platonic relationship between two men and the way it was affected when they brought a third person into it.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.