Excerpt from Lip Service by M.J. Rose, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Lip Service

by M.J. Rose

Lip Service
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 1999, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2000, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Across the table, Paul noticed no one was talking to Tom Foley and, excusing himself from Georgia Menken, he walked around to our side.

Not knowing what had transpired, Paul couldn't have avoided what followed.

"Jill, Tom, I wanted to make sure you two got a chance to talk to Sam Butterfield. He's one of our most fervent supporters. Over the last three years, he's employed several of our graduates."

Jill remained aloof, but Tom was interested.

"In fact, we just promoted one of your graduates to be our assistant librarian," Sam said.

"There's great satisfaction in active participation," Tom said. "Anyone can just write a check. What kind of company do you have, Sam?"

Assuming Tom and his wife shared similar prejudices, I tried to warn Paul to intervene, but my husband wasn't paying attention to me -- he was absorbed in getting the two men to bond.

"Sam is the founder of the Butterfield Institute," Paul boasted, adding, "In the psychiatric community, it's considered the finest clinic of its kind."

"The Butterfield Institute? Sorry, I don't think I'm aware of it," Tom said.

"It's that progressive sex clinic, Tom," Jill said, as if she'd just eaten spoiled food.

Immediately, Paul changed the subject back to FIT and they continued conversing about the charity until the waiter interrupted with the next course.

"Oh well, I suppose that will put an end to Paul's trotting me out to impress new devotees for a while," Sam said to me in a low voice once Paul had returned to his seat. Jill had turned her full attention to the man on her left and Tom was busy with the dinner partner on his right.

"Perhaps we should play it safe and talk about something innocuous in case anyone's eavesdropping," I joked.

"All right. What do you know about poetry?" Sam asked.

"Sorry -- I haven't read any since college."

"Did you ever hear of the poet Robert Herrick?"

I sipped some wine and tried to remember. "I think so. Was he a nineteenth-century English poet?"

"Seventeenth. He had a mistress to whom he wrote reams of poetry." Sam paused. "Her name was Julia. One of the better-known poems is called "Upon Julia's Clothes." Do you know it?"

"No."

Sam shut his eyes and let his head fall back a bit. Slightly too suggestive for the time and place. I looked over at Paul, but he was engrossed in conversation.

"'Whenas in silks my Julia goes
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.
Next when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!'"

Sam opened his eyes and looked at me, awaiting a response.

"That was beautiful," I whispered, half enthralled, half embarrassed by his expansiveness.

"You mean you never had a lover read that to you?"

I shook my head no.

"Fucking shame. It was written over three hundred years ago, but it fits you -- especially tonight. There's a beautiful tradition in quoting love poetry. It's a powerful and underrated aphrodisiac."

The setting for Sam's sentiment was perfect. Victorian conservatories had often been used as trysting places where lovers met and read poetry to express emotions both were too shy to speak directly. But considering the occasion, Sam's comments were inappropriate.

Because I was on my best behavior, I was able to appear composed. But his flirting had unnerved me.

I reminded myself that a good therapist has the ability to instantly connect to a patient. It was a gift I'd seen firsthand with my father, with Dr. Maggie Stone, who was my therapist, and with my husband. Now, I tried to convince myself that that was all Sam had done with me. But when he'd recited those lines I'd become aware of the thin fabric of my dress against my body. I'd felt my skin flush; my nipples harden. How long had it been since a man had made me aware of myself?

Copyright © 1998 by M.J. Rose

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.