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Faithful
     

Faithful

4.5 6
by Davitt Sigerson
 

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Nick and Trish married within two months of meeting each other. A thoroughly modern couple with demanding careers–Nick is a stock trader, Trish works in international marketing–they are drawn together by a fiercely erotic bond. Trish has a voracious sexual appetite, and Nick considers himself the luckiest man in the world. As they negotiate the pitfalls of

Overview

Nick and Trish married within two months of meeting each other. A thoroughly modern couple with demanding careers–Nick is a stock trader, Trish works in international marketing–they are drawn together by a fiercely erotic bond. Trish has a voracious sexual appetite, and Nick considers himself the luckiest man in the world. As they negotiate the pitfalls of a new marriage–background differences, meddlesome friends, ghosts of former lovers–they slowly grow comfortable and find bliss in domestic preparations for the blessing of pregnancy. But, when Trish’s past rears its head, she’s forced to make a choice that will set their lives in completely unexpected directions.

Alternating between electric erotic encounters and affecting portraits of fatherhood, Sigerson offers deep insights into the intricacies of love, passion, and deceit in a contemporary family.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Undeniably vivid, capturing the dreamy intensity of . . . desire with poetic shorthand." –The New York Times Book Review

“A veritable orgy of carnal activity. . . . In elastic, often startlingly resonant prose, Sigerson mines both the ugliness and the ecstasy of sexual obsession.” –Seattle Weekly

"Sigerson displays an intuitive understanding of the contemporary complexities of love and desire, and the power–through instinct, not caprice–with which one sex holds the whip in this transatlantic, emotionally sadomasochistic tale of triangulated love and fatherhood." –Vanity Fair

“Who can resist Sigerson’s masterful manipulations?” –Los Angeles Times

"Sigerson is inquiring what fidelity means in a world of shifting loyalties and domestic arrangements. . . . [Written] with the illuminated grace of a Renaissance portrait." –Elle

"Davitt Sigerson's sensual saga of sex and parenting . . . shows how sexual desire and parental responsibility are often strange bedfellows, and pounds home the knockout punch Nick finds in fatherhood." –Boston Herald

"A fast, literate read. . . . Faithful is hip and contemporary." –Santa Cruz Sentinel

“If you have any desire to sleep, eat, or go to work for the next few days, don't read Faithful: it's compulsive. A tender, mischievous, and infinitely sexy piece of work.”
– Fernanda Eberstadt, author of The Furies

"[Faithful] mixes the two strongest, usually competing emotional forces: family and sex. Davitt Sigerson is, for instance, particularly observant about children, their deliciously scented newness, capacity for sudden squalls and primary emotional power over their parents. . . . There's not a dull page in it." –The Palm Beach Post

"A compelling novel about love in its many transformations. Sigerson recognizes that the rules are gone and love cannot be kept within boundaries. Ignoring the old conventions and facing enormous difficulties, his characters' emotions emerge triumphant and true. I love this book." –Susan Cheever, author of Home Before Dark

“Mr. Sigerson’s book . . . is raising more than eyebrows. . . . An impressive debut.” –The New York Observer

"People often remark on how amazing it is that men do the greatest fictional portraits of women. Here, equally amazing, is a man's portrait of a broken-hearted guy's love for, and understanding of, a little girl. Take a trip to your bookstore." –Litchfield Enquirer

"Faithful is a mystery story—fast, tense, surprising, sexy, unnerving. But it is even more a brilliant love story in which Sigerson captures the passion of a man for one woman, and the devotion of a father for one daughter." –Susanna Moore, author of In the Cut and One Last Look.

Publishers Weekly
Sigerson, a former record executive, whips up sexual tensions, extramarital affairs and even extra-affair affairs in his racy debut. Nick Clifford, a he-man London trader with a penchant for loving women "out of his league," ends up in the marriage of his dreams with Trish, a flight attendant hotter than a Victoria Secret's model; she's described as a "Mebius strip of a milk white girl" with "Gaudi seashell feet." But Trish runs around on him almost from the get-go and soon leaves Nick for her first real love, Joe Somerville, a dashing man with a fancy pad, a fast ride and "a habit of buying and selling country houses." The catch? The blushing bride is pregnant (by her husband). It's tough after baby Charlotte is born. Nick, who's having sex with Trish again though she's still with Joe, thinks, "We can talk about our daughter.... But I can't touch you.... If we were having an affair, I'd hold your hand in the restaurants where our friends don't go, but we're not having an affair. I don't know what we are doing and I can't ask, because if I ask then we're talking about it, and if we talk about it then it's real." Torn up by his outsider's love for Trish and his daughter, Nick moves to New York for work. As Nick's life becomes boring, so does the novel, with little to animate it but faithless sex. The best parts of the story are Nick's poignant ruminations on fatherhood. While this novel can sometimes oddly fascinate, it also manages to prove that even stormy sex can be ho-hum. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Set in contemporary London, this story of sex, power, and misplaced love is both intriguing and disappointing. Nick and Trish are happy newlyweds-but only for a short time. While Nick is completely devoted to Trish, she is so highly sexed that she sleeps with strangers on business trips. After Trish becomes pregnant, an old boyfriend inexplicably talks her into leaving Nick and marrying him. She and Nick meet for child visits after the baby is born, but these visits quickly turn into afternoon sex sessions, leaving Nick hopeful for a reunion. The emotional turmoil becomes tedious, stalling the action until Nick finally realizes that Trish's sexual appetite has too much power over him and decides to make a new life. Nick's journey is clear, but Trish remains a puzzle. Her actions are unclear, and her motivations appear entirely self-centered, leaving us no choice but to agree with her new husband when he calls her a dirty little whore. An optional purchase. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/03.]-Kellie Gillespie, City of Mesa Lib., AZ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A crude debut about youthful marriage and the sad calamities that can befall it-with characters that, at very, very best, fail to earn reader sympathy. You can see it coming a mile away-that Nick Clifford, successful young broker on the London stock exchange, shouldn't have upped and married this girl-Trish, she's called-after so short a courtship. Nick is so head-over-heels that when they're first apart (Trish is an airline stewardess) he goes around the apartment sniffing the various scents she's left behind-while she, at the same moment, is banging her brains out with a total stranger who very, very much loves her bum. Well, Trish gets pregnant-by Nick-but, quick as a wink and well before the delivery, her old boyfriend and lover, the crude and ultrasuccessful media-man, Joe, reenters the scene, begs for her hand-and gets it! So Trish and Joe set up household together, while poor paternal Nick watches from the sidelines. When baby-girl Charlotte is born, Nick is smitten like any first daddy, though logistics are complicated now that he's taken a job in New York and has to jet back and forth over the wide Atlantic to spend sensitive and caring weekends with darling baby. Who really loves who? And what will conceivably come of it all-especially when Trish, though Joe's sworn and true mate, nevertheless happily bangs away with Nick every time he returns for a London weekend? Nick also has his own stateside sweetie, the gorgeous and flat-flat-flat Sareen ("wow, has she ever come through for him"), who seems conveniently open to any extent of abuse. When Nick and Joe, in a scene stupendously unreal and contrived, are put in the same room together alone, they realize that Trish is bangingboth-and Trish herself, entering stage left, adds to the subtlety ("Fine, I'm evil. Bitch, cunt, whore. Now fuck off"). After such eloquence, what forgiveness? Dumb, thin, meretricious, absurd. Agent: Erin Hosier/Gernert Company

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400034840
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/08/2005
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Nick Clifford watches the fan sweep a white ceiling, looks down into the vortex of white sheets, and smiles at his Mabius strip of a milk white girl. An undersea swirl of straight black hair. A light, mouth-breathing sleep. Gaud' seashell feet, the heels round, unflattened, no evidence of weight bearing because she skips, she floats, she glides. Nearest to him is the right little toe, curved slightly toward the others. Nick imagines running a fingernail down the sole, imagines the foot curling in response, the unconscious grasp, the pinks pinker, a reef alive with baby suction. A waking stretch, the foot touches Nick on the side of his head, and Trish is up, laughing.

"Oh, it's you!" And she's gone, skimming the cool floor to the bathroom. Yes, him, betrothed a fortnight ago, wed three nights since, honeymooned with Trish's free miles on this island, sunny and unexplored. Done it over and over, as his seed seized each chance to make the connection between them be forever.

This afternoon they fly home. Tomorrow morning Nick will go back on the trading floor to get his back slapped and drinks bought. Why did she marry him, he wonders, as her shower covers the cicadas with white noise. Because for once God smiled his way. Once, and that's good enough. Tomorrow morning the wife will be stepping out of a black cab at Heathrow for her five days to Dubai and back, pointing her Eurobusiness prospects around the tax-advantaged paradise. They must go for the whole slim deal of her—faun legs, tight waist, brave little bosom—and fall into those kind blue eyes. The white noise stops. She showers quickly, a habit from her boarding school days.

Bouncing back into the room, smiling like a kid. As she passes, Trish gives an angled tap to the stalks of velvety seaweed, already losing their submarine orange, that she has rescued and stuck in a milk bottle washed ashore. Nick smiles too, reminded of how his father could focus the telly with one flick on the rabbit ears. She will bring clarity and beauty to his life.

Trish flops on the bed, rooting for him, giggling and gobbling. Yes, it's God he must thank, to grant him even a taste of this. Gin and spare time helped: but how could it have become four weeks from just four hours? She saw his good heart. Finally someone did, and valued it. Which is what got her to the Chelsea Town Hall? That's a lot of credit on a good heart. The dick fattens in her mouth. Must let the wife do the work this time, she's the boss. Still, he can say I love you as much as he wants now, and he wants to.

But it's Trish who sighs, "Oh Nick. I'm so happy." And then, "No messing about! We've got a plane to catch!"

She works her filthy ingenuities. Pop pop pop. The stopper bounces inside his soul and the empty ache empties again.

IT IS NICE TO BE OFF TO WORK on a drizzling February Monday, nice to resent the cold and damp, nice to fight the stuffed and soggy smells of the Northern Line, and that familiar eerie one of burning. Up the long moving staircase and out into the gray squalor of the City. The Exchange isn't inherently beautiful. It's neither old nor elegant, charming nor charmless. It is a monument to the sensible working out of competing desires. Here the humors are veined, the passions brokered, rationalized in the fast congress of seller and buyer. The coveted thing, and the quantity of it, and the long or short of it, exist on both sides of the trade, as either possession or desire. Until the contract struck by these men fixes meaning to all the words: a price. Offered, accepted: a hypothesis until set, the price is reality, as real as and equal to and defining the thing itself. In life-giving thunderclap, the entire package—the thing, its worth, to whom and when—becomes true. And true again, a newer truth, a moment later, and many times over, before lunch. Only the traders understand this power of theirs, to make truth. Perhaps others, grief-stricken men, look for a lasting kind.

At dinner the boys stand him, insist on Dom, hollering and clapping. Those who have met Trish leer in flattery. Most offer platitudes. These men find nasty stuff to say about almost everyone, but with Nick they don't try. Nick is liked here, not for wit or wealth or any exceptionality, but simply because he is so cheerful and sharp, a pillar of this society, always ready to promote a piss-up, just as prepared to get down to work again when it comes time.

The way home is lighter, drier, and not as acrid as the way down. Nick lets himself into his flat, now their flat. Many kinds of married homecoming—arriving with her from their honeymoon yesterday, arriving to find her there, or out—are already familiar. Trish is drinking vodka and cranberry with some Midlands managing director high above a featureless desert. With her away, Nick feels more than ever married, more than ever that her essence has saturated his rooms, his things, his sleep.

The flat in West Hampstead is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. But by being where Trish's sweaters fill a bureau drawer, Trish's cotton puffs from Boots sit on a ledge by the sink, Trish's family pictures now rule the parlor from a small table, Nick's flat has become his home through the force of its becoming hers. The arrival of Trish's bottle of Vichy Milk Moisturiser has changed reality in a way beyond what they do at the Exchange. Like incense swaying down the aisle in church, unlocking centuries of memory, the smell of her sanctifies the place. Suddenly many things are true. And though the details will change, the truth of these moments remains true, forever. Whatever happens, wherever they may go, this will have been their home, and they are husband and wife here, at this time for all time.

How good is his memory? Suppose the L-1011 Allah Cruiser plunges into the Red Sea? For how long could he retain her essence? The smell would still be here, but it's mostly Diorella. Yes, he will always associate it with her, and granted it isn't Diorella neat, rather Diorella plus Trish. Could he remember her breath, deliciously boozy, molasses and juniper? Could he remember her ears? He walks to the ashtray atop the bureau: little pearl earrings with a tiny diamond each. Presents from a spurned lover? He pulls the stem from the back of one and draws it through his thumb and forefinger. He puts his fingers to his nose. Girl sweat, and a memory of figs. But other girls' earrings are just as sweet—in fact, the same.

OK, go to work. Into the hamper, and out comes the white cotton shirt from last Thursday's wedding party. Perfume again, but now the Diorella and the girl are each more distinct. She must have put some on, then put the shirt on, then sprayed more on the inside, below the collar probably. There are two Trish smells: the frank faint traces of proper sweat under the arms—righteously girly, but not exclusively Trish—and then another one, around the trunk; subtler, more entwined with the Diorella, and more essential. Smelling it makes him think powerfully of her. And though it won't stay just as it is now, this will be the smell that he and their children and their grandchildren will think of when they think of what it's like to be hugged by Trish.

Next item: the black hair tie, a stretchy woven ring. Past the cigarette smoke, the Diorella, the shampoo, he thinks he can detect something fundamental; he's not sure. Back to the hamper and out comes a pair of white ankle socks: nice but again not sui generis. And the knickers. The back, the front: strong generic flavors, still, like any girl's.

So what has he got, and what would he have in two weeks if she died tonight, past a few loads of laundry? He'd have Diorella, he'd have the DNA to reconstruct anyone he's ever fucked, a white girl between sixteen and forty, but not Trish. By nose alone he sees he can't hold her.

NICK GOES TO THE COOPER'S ARMS, his local, for a supper of sausage and chips. Trish would tease him, but Trish isn't here. So neither does it matter that Trish gets up the noses of Gorman and Tate, his pub mates. Gorman is older and married, a tired good sport whose wife never shows up, even to fish him out. Tate is younger than Nick, and flash—not in fact as flash as Nick, but at the Cooper's Tate's reputation for superior flashness is a cornerstone of the social organization.

"How's Mrs. C?"

"Madame is away, boys."

"So soon? Recuperating, I'll wager."

"I'm recuperating. She goes from strength to strength."

"On the job?"

Gorman glares at Tate, holding to form.

"Do you mean, in the air?"

"Acrobatic bugger."

"Tate, you're pathological."

"Which reminds me: what ever happened to your posh one?"

"Johnny Colson. A friend, as you know."

"Then bring her round sometime. I'm sure the wife would get a kick out of that."

"Yes, by all means. You do that."

"She's in Canada at the moment, with her dad."

"Let it drift. Trust a married friend. The more they say they don't mind, the worse they feel. I'll lay odds that Trish lives in dread of your giraffe."

This thought is not new, but it pleases him. "Why do I . . . Someone get me another g&t."

THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A WOMAN, often unattained, holding his life in her hands. He is used to loving someone out of his league, mostly Johnny—too tall, too barmy, just beyond. Nick was always one of the hard lads at Spencer, the London school where his parents scrimped to keep him and his little brother William. But Nick's awe of skirt made him less hard than he looked.

With Trish you could take a leak without closing the door. He's never seen anyone as beautiful, including Johnny. He's never been with anyone as perfect, including the professionals. And she loves him totally, better or worse, marryingly. Even in the private moments, when he finds he can't breathe in her presence and blusters for fear of looking ridiculous, even then he can handle himself, because although she has the beauty she doesn't have the other thing, the beyond.

Johnny has treasured him like a good luck charm, a broken lighter she refuses to chuck from her purse. Trish doesn't operate in a world of symbols. If she's too drunk to fuck, you can fuck her. She likes you to get it in. She likes the taste of come. She likes to taste herself on your dick, and she wants you to kiss her, to taste it too.

She smiles at him in the morning as she's rolling the deodorant under her arms. It isn't even conscious. She likes Queen and Roxette as much as the good stuff. She's up for anything on the radio she can sing along to. When Trish gets old will she have dry skin and sore subjects? He can't imagine. And of course he will never give her reasons: he saw that show, growing up.

Trish has girlfriends, but not close friends. Nick isn't sure how he feels about that. Men, after all, are considered bad with secrets, but they're only bad with other people's secrets. Men don't tell revealing things to anyone, and usually dislike having to hear them. If a woman has a close friend she will tell her everything, with no conception of danger. The entrusting of secrets is what defines a close friendship between women.

Nick thinks about Trish this way: he wonders if her lack of confessors means she won't ever open up to him either. Or will that trust be theirs to learn together over time? It's reassuring, because women who are big on intimacy, and that's most of them, always drill for more of it. But Trish won't try to barge into him. When his door is closed, she won't knock, she'll wait. Still, the enchanting ways in which she seeks contact—the smacks and bites, conspiratorial giggles, private grooming—testify to what's important: that she is present, has committed, and will let her own door swing as wide as the hinges allow. Nick may not open her essence the way he opens her legs, but at least he knows that if it ever happens for her, it will happen with him.

TRISH HAS BOUGHT NICK a box of Havana cigars at the Duty Free and here in the taxi home she is deciding between the two cards she wrote on the plane. On one she's tried to be witty, but when she reads it back it doesn't seem to work. On the other, which she doodled for about an hour, she's written his name over and over, garlanded and wreathed in the pretty unoriginal style of teenage crushes, interposed with hearts bearing words like "forever," and "fuck me." This is way over the top. But it's how he makes her feel, so why shouldn't she show it?

Who am I kidding? He'll notice the cigars, not the girly note. No, really who am I kidding? He'll notice my bum. Like they always do.

NICK HAS STOPPED BY HARRODS after work to pick up smoked Scottish salmon, lemons, capers, brown bread, sweet butter and a bottle of Bollinger. He's cleaned the flat, had a bath and then cleaned that, put on fresh sheets and a Bryan Ferry CD. He hears the buzzer and opens the door. In a minute she's there, smiling but looking nervous.

"Must have a wee, must have a wash."

"How was it?"

"Oh, fine. I'm just tired, they were a lousy lot this time."

"I've organized a treat."

"Oh dear, really? I hate to disappoint. Do you mind if I just take a bowl of cereal and get in bed?"

"Of course not."

She watches a bad comedy on Channel Four with her knees pulled up under the covers, but she doesn't look as if she feels at home. Nick isn't sure what to do but he can sense not to offer a shoulder rub or anything. He lies on his side next to her with his head propped up on one arm, watching the show. She feels lonely so he's lonely too.

"It doesn't seem real yet, does it?" Nick ventures.

She looks into his face, turning her head to align it with his.

"I guess not. Give it time, right?"

She reaches over, smiling, and knocks his propped arm out from under him. She pulls him near. They kiss, quick closed kisses on the lips. He waits for her to open her mouth but it doesn't happen. She slides under him and guides him in. He holds her waist, her calves, verifying rights. And now she kisses him, a proper hungry one. The fuck doesn't go on for long but it's good, and she doesn't let go after but rolls on top and grinds all of her onto him, gripping his thighs with her legs and ankles.

Meet the Author

Davitt Sigerson grew up in New York and London, and read history at Oxford University. He has worked as a songwriter, record producer and journalist, and as an executive in the music business. He lives in New York with his wife and their two daughters. He is working on his second novel.

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Faithful 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the first few pages and the story grabbed me, but something seemed a little amist. I decided to read to page 50 'my habit' and give it a try. That evening I made it to page 100 and was unable to put the book down to get some sleep! Sigerson's style of writing is different then my norm, but he does it with zest. I found the book raw at times, but it was wonderful because it told reality of life without adding fluff. There were times that it brought emotions out in me: hate, love, sadness, happiness-- and that in a book is always a good sign this is a wonderful read. This book tells about the love of a man for a woman and then the love of a dad for his daughter. Has a flair of british writing from the author. The ending made me close the book and wanting more closure, but Sigerson ended the book appropriately with the reader left to think of the next step. A highly erotic book that engrossed me. I would recommend this book to others!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in two days. Its an easy read and a little predictible but totally worth the journey. I cannot wait for his next book - hopefully the sequel to this one!! It is such a great love story between husband and wife and father and daughter and shows you how one deals with the way life can change. I highly recommend!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Immensely moving story of relationship: love, lust, sex, fidelity, hate, anger, revenge, morality, and immorality. Don't question; just read it and you will find yourself thinking, yes, actually thinking, for days. And the writing? The writer reveals the beauty, elegance, power, and importance of our language. Buy it, borrow it, or pick it up at a library (if you're not afraid of Ashcroft knowing your reading habits), and prepare yourself for pain and pleasure. Enough said.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. In fact, I've already read it twice. 'Faithful' has a lot of things going for it -- a delicious, tight story; solidly written, unpredictable characters -- but at its heart is the voice of its writer, Davitt Sigerson. Like the first time I read Scott Spencer, that's the feeling I get from discovering Sigerson -- and this book is all about discovery, of emotions you didn't know you had in you, of those special 'first time' events in one's life. It's that kind of book. Witty and sexy, 'Faithful' is a joy from cover to cover. I look forward to Sigerson's next book, and his next after that.