Synopsis of Colin MacKinnon's New Novel,
IT'S YOU! tells the intertwined stories of two women and their loves. One of the women, Flora Lijak, is a nineteenth century English writer and anti-Tsarist revolutionary. The other, Ozzie Hosseini, is a twenty-first century American scholar of English Literature.
Flora’s abuse at an early age has seemingly rendered her numb to sexual pleasure, but in the prime of her life – and much to her surprise – she has an incandescent love affair with an American Anarchist named William McKenzie. Their romance takes place in London in 1895.
When we first encounter Ozzie, an attractive woman in her thirties, she is still grieving the death of her husband Tom, killed some years before in a traffic accident.
Linking Flora’s story and Ozzie’s is the ancient and mysterious Lijak Manuscript, named for Flora’s husband, who discovered it in 1912 in an out-of-the-way monastery in Italy. The Manuscript, penned on vellum in an indecipherable script, is filled with bizarre, sexually-charged illustrations and has defied the efforts of scholars and expert code-breakers over the years to interpret it. Flora herself has worked on the Manuscript and has left provocative notes suggesting how to break it.
Ozzie learns of the Manuscript from Mark Morehead, an engineer doing top secret work for NSA. Mark’s interest in decrypting the document leads him to visit Ozzie in her office at Georgetown University – he mistakenly thinks she’s an expert on Flora. The encounter is the beginning of their romance. His visit also piques Ozzie’s interest in Flora and her life. By tracking down records and artifacts - a marriage certificate, an old photograph or two - Ozzie manages to piece together Flora's story, including her poignant affair with McKenzie and her final love for a younger woman named Alice Neff.
Ever in the background is the Manuscript, which Ozzie comes to realize is a exposition of "good witchcraft" and a treatise on love, likely penned by women.
IT'S YOU! is a beautifully written tale of women's sexuality, with strong, sympathetic, believable characters. It draws a vivid picture of fin de siècle London and of the city's revolutionary circles and will appeal to lovers of romance and historical fiction. Both stories – Flora’s and Ozzie's – end happily.
© Colin MacKinnon 2019