Illegal Liaisons begins with a 'communion of bodies' in a Brussels church. The bodies belong to Jonathan - once Januszek, renamed when he is plucked from Poland for schooling in England - and Andrea, a born to Czech parents, but growing up in Sweden.
They have complicated, post-national backgrounds, live at the heart of a new Europe, and have a considerable and voracious interest in sex.
Inevitably, they are married to other people, both EU bureaucrats. Jonathan, the struggling teller of fairy stories, newly employed as a creative writing tutor, does not fit easily into his wife Megi's structured, competitive world of career diplomacy.
I never felt closer to him than when he receives pre-party instructions.
"Would you please not ask anyone your usual question, 'But what is it that you do?' ...
"You're to rely on the knowledge I've been feeding you over the last few days.... Don't try to understand. Ask about general things."
"Oh, for God's sake, you used to be a journalist, do I have to tell you how to talk to people?"
Jonathan remarks that his family includes a lawyer, an engineer and a physicist.
"... Now people work in leasing, audit, PR and human resources. Those aren't profession."
Megi, exasperated, observes: "But you don't have to tell them that."
Splendid, but I did struggle a bit with Jonathan, partly because he felt too much like a man described by a woman. It wasn't just the physical bits that didn't feel quite right, but also his rather laddish relationship with fellow philanderer Stefan didn't quite gel for me. Nor did I fall for Andrea, who never comes alive as a person. OK, it may reflect Jonathan's world view that she is just a body and his wife just a working mother, but if that was the intention, it was a bit heavy handed.
Likewise the sex, which is frequent and graphically described. Whether this is brave, liberating, and erotic, or intrusive and rather mechanistic rather depends on your point of view.
For me, Illegal Liaisons works best as a novel of deception, where all the main characters are playing games, at once trying escape their pasts but also continually being coloured by rootlessness and disruption. Poland is not an easy country to leave, and tensions between patriotism and modernity are, as in Madame Mephisto (a Stork Press novel I enjoyed very much), ever present.
Perhaps I was reading Plebanek in the wrong way; I look forward to more from Stork!