Femme et Fils (2008), novel, 400pp, US Copyright TXu 1-669-701 (8/13/2008): In a Lolita-reverse, a 40yo cougar falls in love with a 14yo boy. They run away to Canada and marry.
"Sex, a great and mysterious force in human life," wrote eminent Justice William Brennan in a leading obscenity case at the threshold of the sexual revolution, and sex is what motivates the characters in JRL's reverse-Lolita crime thriller, Femme et Fils. Set in western Michigan in the early 1960s, the story begins when 14yo Jacques Chretien's mother is murdered by a madwoman. He goes to live with his English teacher, Heidi Sorrell, in her suburban Rimpoe home. Sorrell lost her husband Luit three years ago in a drowning accident in Petoskey. A month later she lost Luit's baby too.
More than anything she wants to have a child, but good men are hard to find, and although her boyfriend Raul Ravasz is a kink in bed, she's not sure she's in love with him. As Jacques plaints, "I just want to be loved, and that seems hard enough in this dang world!"
Raul and his company, Winthrop, are being sued in Grand Rapids for publishing The Englanders, an allegedly obscene book, a true lewd portrayal of boys' boarding school life. Raul is convinced that sex sells, especially forbidden sex, but prosecutor Holst Troefkaart believes God has chosen him to stamp out sexual perversion, especially porno filth masqueradding as literature. The indictment charges Englanders appeals to "a deviant class: homosexuals and child molesters," that it "tends to corrupt the morals of youth of Michigan." Raul is convicted.
During the trial, during a weak moment, Raul has a tryst with young art student, Erik Van Veizeren. On the way to Chicago, Raul stops at Heidi's and invites her for Memorial Weekend. When she arrives, Raul has to flog the book on TV, and she and Jock go to a Polish street fair. Afterwards they call Raul from a liquor store to pick them up. When robbers attack the place, Heidi knocks one of them in the head with a pop bottle. His gun just misses her, when Jock trips the crook. Raul arrives too late, but follows the ambulance to Mother of the Miraculous Conception Hospital. After Raul apologizes in the hospital room for neglecting her, Jock refuses to accompany him to his apartment. A nun lets Jock pray to the Virgin for his surrogate mother's recovery, after which he stays the night in Heidi's room.
Heidi and Jock return to Kalamazoo, where Heidi is lauded as a hero. The social worker from the county visits and informs them there must be a hearing concerning Jock's guardianship. Meanwhile, Erik too wants to be loved. But when he calls Raul, the Hungarian emigre reacts with alarm. He fears Troefkaart may harass him. He's not even sure the kid is legal, and sodomy is a 1yr to 6yr felony. Nevertheless, when he returns to GR for court, he sees the kid again. He invites him to Chicago for July 4th. Next day his lawyers win a new trial. When he visits Heidi on the return drive, he celebrates by sleeping not only with her, but also her sister Ally, visiting from Lexington. That night, Jock wakes in the backyard. Wanting to cop a read of the taboo book in Raul's briefcase, he steals in the house and catches the perv cheating with his "aunt."
A vice cop picks up Erik at a GR hotel for soliciting. Troefkaart and his investigator Jim Swiat visit Erik in jail, where the kid begs them not to call his Klee Paper Co. CEO father. Erik claims Ravasz is tied up with a gang of pedophiles. The prosecutor cuts him an O.R. release. Meanwhile, in Chicago Ravasz hires a hitman, Tom Slaughter, to square things with sticky boy. A week later, Erik turns up dead, steam-cooked in a DuPage nudist camp sauna. When detectives Rook Lijlmars and Dau Noak question Raul in his apartment about the queer boy's death, Raul rabbits. Stopped outside Saugatuck, Swiat has him transported to GR Jail. When he opens the trunk of the fugitive's car, he finds thousands of photos of pedophiliac sex with boys.
Meanwhile, Heidi learns she's pregnant. When Raul calls from jail, asking for bail, the schoolteacher ditches him for everything he's worth. At the court hearing for Jock the judge grants her guardianship of the boy. The next day they drive to Grand Rapids with lawyer Lewis Fesse. They spring Raul from jail for rights and control of Winthrop Publishing and the hot-selling Englanders. Days later Raul is fished out of a Chicago sewer. Jacques and Heidi elope to Canada, where under Quebecois law boys can marry at 15, and, as guardian, Mom can grant consent.
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