I’m not sure how to categorize this- historical fiction? suspense? Mystery? all of the above.
This book reads like a single sentence, in that it is so seamlessly, exquisitely woven, it flows like a completely natural and unstoppable expression of a life from the moment the reader begins it. It is like picking up a life- between its covers, the events of this life are occurring, and when one picks up the book one simply hops on the train and is completely involved. It left me breathless; I stayed up until almost 3 am finishing it, feeling like I hadn’t blinked from the moment I picked it up.
It unfurls before the reader in sumptuous language, in exquisite detail, in breathtakingly, impeccably, REAL imagery.
There are moments of poetic, Virginia Woolf-esque language which capture the essence of the main character’s experience so completely, one can feel, see, hear along with her. There are moments of down-to-earth, commonsense rationality which serve as a beautiful counterpoint, thus ensuring that the novel never falls into maudlin dramatics (which, given the subject matter, it very well could have.)
The author handles the subject matter with genius. It would have been easy to distance from it by focusing on the emotions evoked, thus creating a more predictable piece of work…this never happens.
Oh, the emotions are there, and they are real, but that’s just it- they are real. They are shown, not told. We, the reader, get to figure things out…
If I had been told what this book was about, I would never have picked it up. I would have wanted to spare myself the pain. I am SO GLAD to be, in this case, utterly proven wrong in my assumption that authors can’t deal with tricky subject matter in a way that leaves a reader intrigued, warmed, fascinated, and healed, rather than stressed or drained.
This book is utterly beautiful. It’s not a light, easy, vacation read, in that it is an absolute work of art; but it is not stressful- it is simply true and honest, witty, warm, and the reader becomes an active participant and will grow right along with the protagonist.
I highly, highly, most highly recommend this book….It is one I will read again, no hesitation.
The characters are beautifully developed, faceted, none of them perfect and all of them utterly human and interesting. The setting is meticulously researched, with not a jarring note to be found.
The writing is exquisite. I am extremely picky on that score and I found not one thing (a couple of typos here and there, but nothing to quibble at) to distract me from this book.
Who will enjoy this: fans of John Irving, Virginia Woolf, Ruth Rendell, D.L. Smith, Barbara Vine… yes, this is an eclectic group of authors, because this author’s voice is entirely their own. I very much look forward to reading more of the author’s work.