When The Apothecary’s Daughter was first published in 2004, I received a call from a well-known bookseller. Her question was: ‘Why has no one ever made love to me in the way that Frederic Montague makes love to the noblewoman in your novel?’
Her question marked the start of a steady stream of correspondence and compliments, mostly from men and many from adolescents newly discovering their own sensuality.
Frederic Montague was an amazing character to work with. Not only is he charming, witty and handsome, but he is a master of seduction.
To celebrate the new edition of the work, I’m delighted to share some of his words, spoken to the noblewoman, Theodora Capelutto, the first time they dined together in the sumptuous, candle-lit dining hall of her castle.
‘I much prefer the works of the Italian writers above all others,’ he said…. ‘They have a passionate way with words. They capture so much of love and lust, so much of beauty. But I must say, I’ve recently come across some central African poetry, translated and written from the original oral…. The work is equally evocative and tantalizing. In fact, it’s quite blatantly erotic…. You must know Solomon’s Song of Songs? Well, it is reminiscent of that masterpiece in the way it likens the lover’s body to natural non-human forms. It likens the woman’s body to that of a leopard, and also to a civet. The hair of the beloved is said to be the coat of a lynx, her movement that of a serpent, lithe and easy, her dark skin the soft bark of some exotic tree, her lips the petals of swamp lilies. The very act of love-making, of penetration, is described as the arrival of rain after drought.
‘Forgive me,’ he said, ‘if I seem to lack decorum by describing this explicit poetry to you, but I just want to share its beauty and to show how the work leaves the reader reeling with a heightened sense of desire, without being in any way vulgar. On the contrary, it is light and respectful of the human body and the art of love-making. It is really quite wondrous and makes our own lovers, our poet-lovers, that is, appear rather limited.’
The Apothecary’s Daughter
African Sun Press
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‘A thoroughly seductive story… as indulgent as slipping into a warm perfumed bath.’ Fiona Moola The Cape Times
‘A languid and highly spiced drama.’ Diane Awerbuck The Sunday Times
‘A sumptuous, sensual and sensational book.’ Jenny Crwys-Williams Top Billing
‘A delicate and beautiful read.’ Kelly Vos Daily Dispatch
‘Richly nuanced, colourfully embroidered and romantic.’ Cecile Cilliers Volksblad