The meaning behind the title: An Artful Affair
Artful: Showing art or skill: – the writer and illustrator are being artful with the use of words and artistic visual expression.
Artful: Artful or dexterous prose: – The writer is both lying and telling truths, creating a character out of many men while offering him up as only one. In many ways he is the generic cheating male.
Artful: Adroit in attaining an end. The man and the woman are doing whatever it takes to play out the affair which is consuming them.
Wily, a synonym of artful: This word links to deception and duplicity, which is both the affair, full of deception and duplicity, but also the writer, for is she writing truth or lies, or a blend of both?
The Artful Dodger is a well-known character in Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens. This character was adroit at escaping/dodging being caught. Artful meaning, he was wily, underhand, untrustworthy, a thief and a liar.
The antagonist is, in many ways, the Artful Dodger. He is a cheat, and to cheat, he must also be a liar. But is he lying to one woman, or two? He is also adroit at dodging questions and at not being caught out where he should not be.
The story is told in first person; therefore, the writer is the protagonist. The reader cannot trust her to be telling the truth, and women cannot trust her for she assists the antagonist with the same cunning that he uses to be undetected. She is the thief that steals husbands, then pleads for the sympathy, as well as the complicity of women, some of whom may have been cheated on. She is the unreliable narrator that scatters crumbs down so many different paths that the reader will not know which pathway leads to truth or reality, while all the time the reader is being seduced with words and pictures of sensuality.
Is it a love story or are the words merely a vehicle for a work of erotic, artistic fiction? Does the reader want to believe that love takes precedence over morality or was it all just lust that should have been denied?
This is a work worthy of academic discussion and analysis. But it is also a story by women, from a female perspective, for men and women to explore.