cover image Love, Alice

Love, Alice

Amanda Sthers. Wyatt-MacKenzie, $14 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-954332-28-7

Sthers (Holy Lands) delivers an equally heartening and heartbreaking novella centered on the struggle to love oneself. Even after moving to Paris from England, 48-year-old literature professor Alice Cendres, a prisoner to her own anxieties and trauma, lives primarily through books. That changes when she meets Akifumi, a sensitive Japanese masseur, whose massage reconciles her with her body and gives her a glimpse of bliss: Akifumi’s “hands and the feelings they provoked, first in [her] heart and then throughout [her] entire soul, forced [her] to dive beneath the waves and resurface with the beauty and the horror.” Unable to communicate her feelings thanks to their language gap, she spends a year learning Japanese while returning for frequent massages. Many of Akifumi’s gestures make her wonder if her desire is reciprocated, but the day she’s finally mastered his language enough to confess her feelings, Akifumi is gone. So she writes him a letter instead, both proclaiming her love and delving into her painful life story. This letter is the text of the novella, delivering a delicate, sensual story of awakening. Each scene is packed with enough emotion and memory to make readers feel right alongside Alice. Though at times heartrending, Sthers’s prose exudes love throughout. Readers will ache for more. Agent: Todd Shuster, Aevitas. (Feb.)