It Takes Two: A Novel

It Takes Two: A Novel

4.3 6
by Patrizia Chen
     
 

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Francesca Rivabuona is fifty and exhausted by the monotony of her life. Stuck in a stale marriage with grown children who have long since fled the coop, and desperate to escape the endless cycle of Upper East Side dinner parties and charity luncheons, she jumps at the chance to write an article about Buenos Aires for a glossy travel magazine.

Francesca is… See more details below

Overview

Francesca Rivabuona is fifty and exhausted by the monotony of her life. Stuck in a stale marriage with grown children who have long since fled the coop, and desperate to escape the endless cycle of Upper East Side dinner parties and charity luncheons, she jumps at the chance to write an article about Buenos Aires for a glossy travel magazine.

Francesca is instantly captivated by Buenos Aires’s palpable rhythm. She explores the city with her new friends—a group of tango dancers who give her an insider’s scoop into the best Buenos Aires has to offer—and rediscovers the sense of passion and excitement she thought she had relinquished forever. As Francesca learns to master the sensual movements of tango dancing, she begins to let down her guard—on the dance floor, in the bedroom, and in her personal life. Embarking on a steamy love affair with Argentina’s most famous plastic surgeon, she knows that she has been irrevocably transformed by the pulsing, erotic thrill of life in Argentina.

At once a tale of a middle-aged woman taking a stand against the disappointments of her life and a sexy, fast-paced, entertaining novel about the ecstasy of tango dancing, It Takes Two reads like a soulful tango: irresistible, exotic, and sensual.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Former model and dance devotee Chen brings a lusty exuberance to this telenovella-like tale of a 50-year-old writer who, stuck in a staid marriage and a boring New York life, retools in Buenos Aires and in short order nails love with a handsome, younger doctor, friendship with like-minded women and gorgeous young dancers, and the tango. “I can't believe I'm the same Francesca who only a week ago sat terrified and intimidated in a corner,” the liberated ex-Manhattanite gasps. Falling in love with Roberto, whose marriage is on the rocks, awakens Francesca's sexual desires, bringing her to new orgasmic heights that, even if they don't make much sense, are pretty hot, anyway. Chen takes her adventure over the top with this breathless, lush take on middle-aged romance, sex and happy endings; people “inhale” their food, are “consumed” and “pulsing” during sex and “shiver and cry inside” from happiness. Sure, it's cheesy, but there's an undeniable charm to the optimism. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
Travel writer enjoys cuisine, tango and reawakened sensuality in an airbrushed Buenos Aires. Manhattan foodie and socialite Francesca, a native Neapolitan, is not aging gracefully. Her adult children have left the nest, and her Italian recipes have displaced sexual desire in her marriage; for some time now the only nookie between Francesca and banker husband George has been gnocchi. She's resigned herself to celibacy (she doesn't take seriously George's urging to have an affair) when salvation arrives in the form of a magazine assignment. She's to do a spread on the tango culture in Buenos Aires with special emphasis on a recent phenomenon: wealthy Brits and Americans who buy Tuck and Tango vacation packages combining plastic surgery and post-operative dance rehab. In Argentina, Francesca enrolls in tango classes, and the dance, a form of stylized intercourse, inflames her long-dormant libido. A target for her lust quickly surfaces in the shape of silver-haired Roberto, 40, a plastic surgeon and entrepreneur who has profited from the T&T trend. The novel tempers the lovers' steamy grapplings with cool-down sections featuring Francesca's other Argentinean friends: Ellie, an American singleton on her biennial tango (sans tuck) break; Sarah, a keen observer of Buenos Aires society scandals; Luis, an Adonis who's risen from the barrio to international tango fame; and Analia, a danseuse who falls hopelessly in love with gay Luis during one of his capricious lapses into heterosexuality. From boudoir to ballroom, memoirist Chen (Rosemary and Bitter Oranges, 2003) displays a flair for sensory detail. However, her fictional characters transcend neither their formulaic roles (frigid epicureanspouse, sexy surgeon, etc.) nor the novel's wish-fulfilling premise of an older woman emerging from invisibility to object of desire via a simple change of hemisphere. Promising complications-Francesca's rival for both husband and lover is a billionairess in her 60s-are downplayed as minor blowback. Like Francesca's favorite dulce de leche, an indulgence for readers willing to binge on empty calories.
From the Publisher
"I haven't had so much fun (or such very good weeps) with a novel in years. Patrizia Chen has a wickedly original voice, and with it she dances you through a tango of love and sex to tell a story that is at the same time steamy, smart, tender, trenchant, and supercool — not to mention as full of life and risk as it is wise. Remember Freud's old question: What do women want? If you still don't know, you'll find the answer in It Takes Two." — Jane Kramer, author of Lone Patriot

"The world according to tango — where miracles occur and where dance, music, and sultry nights in Argentina lead us through a maze of pleasure that turns into obsessions. Patrizia Chen's world is a place that everyone's body, heart, and mind have longed for their whole lives. Some of us see it from across the bank, others are bold enough to buy round-trip tickets there, and some, having crossed the bridge, burn the bridge." — André Aciman, author of Call Me by Your Name

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416570707
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
11/03/2009
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
2 MB

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Read an Excerpt

Volver

(To Come Around)

"Would you like to dance?"

I look at him, surprised. "Tango? I can't dance tango..."

He smiles, and holds out his hand to lead me to the dance floor.

I follow him.

"What should I do?"

"Let yourself go. Trust me."

"Isn't it hot in here?" I ask in an effort to cover up my feelings of inadequacy. I take in the dark room, dangling stars over my head, lights flickering. Couples slowly circling us. His arms surround me, shielding me from the others; his lips brush my cheeks; the fire of his eyes burns my skin.

Oh! He can move! and how...

I can't see his body but I can sense it: tall, solidly built. My hands rest on his back, touching, exploring, savoring each of his muscles.

He's incredibly musical. I look at him and move as if hypnotized. He smiles. I like him; he's friendly, not aggressive. I dance. I follow his lead.

"Wait, it's too hot..." he says, unhurriedly peeling off his red sweater and letting it fall to the floor near a column. I like that he's not in a rush.

"Francesca?"

"Yes?"

"Francesca..." He whispers again.

He takes me back into his embrace and folds me against his body. We move. The pleading sound of a bandoneón fills my soul and a sudden gush of notes surrounds me. I press against him, we move in unison.

We find our rhythm, forging ahead into the fierce maelstrom of tango notes, but without urgency. His mouth caresses my hair, playing with it, almost kissing, brushing my right temple. It's sweet, it's dreamy, it's slow. It's impossibly hot.

It's like the gentle rising of the tide in the Mediterranean. I begin to abandon all resistance. Maybe I am just imagining the rhythmicintensity between us. "It's a dance, just a dance," I remind myself.

But I need it so much. I need to be in a man's arms, my body yearns to follow a music I heard long ago and have forgotten for too long.

His hard-on is forced against my thigh. I stop his arm with my hand and search for his face. We don't need words. I ask myself again, is this really happening?

"You are beautiful. You are making my night..." he murmurs, looking at me seriously.

Who am I to stop this magic moment? I need to let myself go.

Why is my brain constantly at work? I must learn to forget all my worries, to relinquish all thought. Like a drug this dance slowly pervades my body. I reclaim my place in a man's embrace, snuggling against his chest, accepting the power of the warm circle of his arms. I want more.

I'm all liquidity — a stirring of desires. The music has become more insistent. My hips rotate, looking for his, trying to reach him, willing to submit to its sweetness. The unbearable force of this moment overwhelms me as his hands skim my back, following its curve down to the beginning of my buttocks, teasing. Something is happening, rapidly; it's beyond my control.

I let go. I abandon every restraint and surrender to unexpected waves of warmth. My body comes alive. I listen to the vibrations invading me, surging, crashing down over me like huge waves over a long-deserted island.Copyright © 2009 by Patrizia Chen

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"I haven't had so much fun (or such very good weeps) with a novel in years. Patrizia Chen has a wickedly original voice, and with it she dances you through a tango of love and sex to tell a story that is at the same time steamy, smart, tender, trenchant, and supercool — not to mention as full of life and risk as it is wise. Remember Freud's old question: What do women want? If you still don't know, you'll find the answer in It Takes Two." — Jane Kramer, author of Lone Patriot

"The world according to tango — where miracles occur and where dance, music, and sultry nights in Argentina lead us through a maze of pleasure that turns into obsessions. Patrizia Chen's world is a place that everyone's body, heart, and mind have longed for their whole lives. Some of us see it from across the bank, others are bold enough to buy round-trip tickets there, and some, having crossed the bridge, burn the bridge." — André Aciman, author of Call Me by Your Name

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