Bibliophile | Paul Dalgarno delivers polyamorous romantic drama in ‘Poly’

by Paul Dalgarno
Ventura Press

Melbournites Chris and Sarah Flood met in Hong Kong. He was working as a DJ and she was dancing professionally with Tasty Moves in Asia. Many years and two children later (7 year old Oliver and 5 year old Sophie), Chris can’t decide what to buy his wife for her approaching fortieth birthday.

Chris’s self-esteem is at an all-time low, and he questions his near-sexless marriage while wife Sarah is out rediscovering her sexuality after years of deadening domesticity. Chris is well-versed in the theories underpinning non-monogamy but his partner’s polyamory has left him full of self-doubt.

For his first novel, investigative journalist Paul Dalgarno is writing from experience as he and his wife are in an open relationship. Much of the narrative is dialogue-based with spoken thoughts left unfinished and conversations sometimes intermingling with two going at the same time, memories intruding on conversations and sometimes incongruent actions happening as conversations continue.

That generates considerable humour, but the more serious questions are raised when Chris begins another relationship and his previously simple life is thrown into disarray. Fortunately their friend Zac Batista comes to the rescue for school pick-up, babysitting and even organising a calendar so everyone knows what is going on.

It is a wild ride for the reader as they are thrown into observing the chaos generated when multiple partners are mixed with multiple drugs and copious amounts of alcohol. Dalgarno also includes mental health issues that impact on contemporary relationships as several of the male characters are suffering anxiety and/or depression along with questioning their masculinity.

Just when Chris and Sarah decide to rent a larger house so Zac can live with them, their lives are further thrown into turmoil when they discover that Zac may have been lying to them about a whole lot of things. Well, actually, all the characters are doing a certain amount of lying, but Zac’s motivations might be more sinister than the rest.

Lezly Herbert

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