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Josef, Part Deux,

Posted on January 12, 2015

 

Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That’s all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth,

I look at you, and I sigh

                        W.B. Yeats

 

Happy New Year.  I thought we would kick off 2015 with a discussion about what happens when you love the wrong person.

Or, maybe fall in love at the wrong time? Since the dawn of time, creative works have cataloged this thorny subject… Stolen glances, inappropriate thoughts. Usually it ends in ruin, particularly for the women. (See Anna Karenina…)

Strange bedfellows made its way into our vernacular for a reason, and just like our rubbernecking on a freeway at a car crash, we can’t help but watch – errr read – with fascination when a couple that shouldn’t be together, is. Doomed relationships can take many plot twists and turns: their love can burn down the house and the neighborhood, leaving a smoldering heap of ruined lives and regrets. Or, they can end up as two sides of a coin, opposites that have a connection and gain understanding.

Which brings us to Olivia and Josef and their time in Belgrade in Dark Horse. Josef is the brother of Olivia’s lover William. And by that I mean, blood brother as Josef and William share the same vampire maker/father.

In some ways, I like Josef more than William, whose voice was the strongest in my head for a long while – his morality so clear-cut and defined. Eventually, though, Josef came to me, and once he arrived, as is the case in the books, you can hardly take your eyes off of him. Dark, brooding, and angry, you watch him at first out of concern for your own safety, then later out of curiosity, and then later still, when it’s just a glance out of the corner of your eye, because you cannot help yourself. He’s under your skin before you know it.

For Olivia he’s an unwelcome attraction, a test of her loyalty at a time when her whole life is in upheaval. He’s also a voice of conscience that hasn’t the patience or the motivation to baby her as she learns of her heritage and the powers that accompany it.

But loyalty is at the heart of all of this. A Jewish resistance fighter, left for dead after being mortally wounded, Josef’s exposure to the barbarity of the Nazis shapes his outlook as an immortal being. Later, when they are thrown together in Serbia, Olivia learns the story of his life, about the betrayal that leads to the loss of his wife and daughter, and comes to understand his motivations.

Olivia is also grieving over her own sense of loss and betrayal. The two poke at one another to nurse their grievances, until finally the intensity of their animosity and attraction is too great to endure. Or maybe it was their attraction all along that caused such an acute reaction between them, but whatever the spark, they share a long night with one another. And when it’s over, they form a bond of friendship that is very different than anything Olivia has known or will know.

By the end of Dark Horse, theirs is a love of great regret, but also great joy. Comrades and knowing friends, they help one another get back on course. She helps him recover the ghosts of his past and remember without pain the people who loved him. And Josef? He tries to help Olivia learn to forgive William for the choices he’s made to protect her and The Council.

It’s safe to say her efforts work better than his, but this story isn’t over just yet. So did they love the wrong people, or just fall in love at the wrong time?

I’ll let you be the judge of that. Drop me a line, and let me know what you think.

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