I was pleasantly surprised by the Wine-Dark Sea. And this after almost putting it down after the first chapter!
Let me explain that first chapter. Daniel is an English writer currently working on his latest book in a small town outside of Calais, France. He notices a homeless man on a rooftop across the way from his small apartment. He has just gone to market to buy some food and so he motions for the homeless man to come over. Daniel questions his motives the whole time this is going on, but the plight of homeless immigrants in France has touched him and he wants to help where he can. When the homeless man arrives on his doorstep, Daniel feeds him and offers him a bath. The homeless man is named Kofi and he's injured. He's also extremely good looking. Daniel tends his injuries and a shy Kofi makes his advances on Daniel. Kofi has never been with a man before, but he really wants Daniel. After devouring each other, Daniel wakes up to find Kofi in the kitchen holding a butcher knife. Daniel, realizing he's invited a homeless man into his home, thinks Kofi is deranged and going to kill him.
Ok, I was ready to put the book down right there. That was the craziest beginning to a book I've ever read but I wanted to see if The Wine-Dark Sea got better and I'm so glad I persevered because I loved this book. It wasn't perfect, but it was riveting and very enjoyable. I actually look back at that beginning with fondness now. LOL
Five months later, Daniel is back in Paris and he's now in a relationship with Francois, a very temperamental artist. Daniel loves Francois but he doesn't care for his friends so much - they're catty, gossipy, hangers-on and Francois usually gets struck by artistic inspiration in the middle of visiting them, leaving Daniel to entertain. Daniel hates that. One evening, that cattiness gets the best of Francois and Daniel, and Francois unceremoniously dumps Daniel without explanation, only to say something about Alain, Daniel's previous lover. Daniel has no idea what's going on but he leaves, banished from Francois's love. However, the very next day after Francois is injured at his opening he wants Daniel to come to his hospital bedside. He apologizes for what happened and he doesn't want Daniel to abandon him. Daniel takes Francois back and nurses him back to health. On one condition though - that handsome man hovering around Francois's bed? He has to go. No more cheating. Francois agrees and these two go back to the happy days of before. Francois's friends are still there, his former lovers show up sometimes, but Daniel is happy.
But Francois wants to get back at who he believes ruined his opening - a French actress he painted in a very unflattering way. Caught up in his new scheme, he reverts back to the way he was, ignoring Daniel and bascially just using him. Daniel puts up with it until he finds out that Francois has cheated again. After he makes a clean break (that destroys Francois - yay!) Daniel runs into an old friend.
I know I'm not doing this book justice, but it was really good! I love how Daniel eventually stands up to Francois and how he kind of becomes friends with Alain, his former lover. And just how everything ended was perfect. I'm glad Francois got what he deserved. He was a real sleazy character but he had a lot of charisma and you can't blame Daniel for staying with him as long as he did. And Daniel. I liked him. Although he comes off as silly (especially with that beginning!) he comes into his own and he realizes some truths about himself. That was nice.
Although not perfect, the story hidden in this book was really good. For pure enjoyment alone, this book is getting 4 out of 5. Glad I found this hidden gem!