Here is one woman’s brief description of her relationship with a man. It ends with her daydream about their future together. Read it and see if you can predict the future she has in mind.

“We felt right together, I thought. I liked the way, when one of us knocked down the other’s idea, it always led into a new one, not a dead end. I liked how we were starting to know, without thinking, how to balance each other…I liked the way he called me on my crap, not because his ego was tangled in his undies but because the crap was getting in our way. I liked the laughs. Once or twice – more – I caught myself daydreaming like a sappy teenager about our future together…”

The description is from The Trespasser, a crime novel by Tana French. The narrator is the murder detective Antoinette Conway, and she is fantasizing about her partner, detective Steve Moran.

Now let’s pick up where that last sentence left off, so you can see how close you got with your prediction about the daydreaming:

“about someday when we would get the decent cases, the genius plans we’d dream up to trap the cunning psychos, the interrogations that would go down in squad history.”

The Trespasser is the sort of novel I’m always looking for. Not because it is about murder (though I don’t mind that) but because it is such a refreshing change from so many other novels that – no matter how they start out – end up being just another trite story about romantic love.

I want to read about the other loves of our lives – our close and enduring friendships, the work that we love, and all the other people and things that make our lives meaningful.

That daydreaming passage is a moving tribute to friendship. It is also a love note to the kind of work that enriches our lives, work that we don’t try to “balance” with life because it is such a rewarding part of our lives. People who have found that kind of work truly have found the love of their lives.

The Trespasser includes other passages, too, that showcase the author’s unconventional sensibility. For example, here’s something Antoinette says about romantic relationships:

“No one needs a relationship. What you need is the basic cop-on to figure that out, in the face of all the media bullshit screaming that you’re nothing on your own and you’re a dangerous freak if you disagree. The truth is, if you don’t exist without someone else, you don’t exist at all.”

Here’s how Antoinette describes some of the people she sees in a town she is visiting:

“…couples making sure the world can see how in love they are, families who are going to enjoy their family time if it kills them.”

And finally, as if I don’t already love this author enough, Tana French also acknowledges singlism in the workplace: “Me and Steve know all the official reasons we get loaded down with the night shifts. We’re both single, no wives or husbands or kids waiting at home…”

I wish novels free of predictable romantic plots were not so rare. If you know of others and you are willing to share your suggestions in the comments section, please do.

Photo by kevin dooley