To give voice, to be the voice, to have a voice: Collin Kelley's Conquering Venus has less to do with what happens and everything to do with what the characters say and the consequences of their words as they are set into motion.
Words are things, and while it is possible to forget how much they matter & become inured to their potency as a result of the perpetual influx of our streaming Tweets and feeds, every once in a while, we read a poem or book, hear a voice reciting verse or prose, and we are reminded of the potency of words and are left to reflect on the invisible residue of their meaning.
Paris and The Louvre come alive in CV, providing the scenic as well as symbolic backdrop for what is a beautifully written and absolutely riveting story about Love, Desire, and the conflicts that ensue as a consequence of conflicting desires.
A central theme that runs through the novel is the statue of the armless Venus de Milo; it is both subject of various key scenes and object of the characters' commingled desires. The statue's armlessness projects a sense of helplessness, one that has been triggered by a violent breaking, yet, Venus' beauty and sensuality remain intact.
We are left to wonder; it it Venus herself who, in being so admired and defiant, is doing the conquering? How does conquering Venus play into our understanding of the fictions we create about ourselves and the tenacious objects of our own desires? Perhaps part of this conquering involves re-constructing one's unique reality into a mythical picture that projects one's own fictive life, not unlike the aptly imagined twin-limbed Venus de Milo on the cover of Conquering Venus.