I Have Kissed Your Lips, by Gerard Windsor

Michael English is happy in his role as parish priest, until he meets Esme, one of his parishioners. They are strangely drawn to each other and he finds himself making clandestine visits to Esme. When her husband dies and she declares herself pregnant, he leaves the priesthood and marries her.

Soon, though, Michael finds himself falling for the woman who is Esme’s doctor, and begins a second affair. This affair is called off by the woman, Jill, after Esme’s baby dies. Michael is unsure whether he loves Esme, but feels obliged to spend the rest of his life with her.

Underlying this plot are two others – the story of Michael’s birth and of his childhood, and the story of Esme’s first baby – born when she was a teenager, and adopted out at birth. The reader is teased throughout the book as to the connections between these plots, which come together in a final shocking twist.

I Have Kissed Your Lips at times seems to run the risk of being predictable but each time redeems itself with a new twist. This is much more than a story about babies and adoptions – it is also about religion, the institution of the church, and secrecy and its long term impact. Michael and Esme, and those who are affected by their actions, are all initially unaware of the significance of their relationship and are victims of the past mistakes and misdeeds of others.

I Have Kissed Your Lips is a well-crafted literary novel with the various stories interwoven beautifully so that, piece by piece, the plot comes together at just the right point.

I Have Kissed Your Lips, by Gerard Windsor
University of Queensland Press, 2004