Shellie’s quick take:A lyrical, sadly sweet, yet redemptive novel which has magical realism at its heart....moreOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
Shellie’s quick take:A lyrical, sadly sweet, yet redemptive novel which has magical realism at its heart. It will make most readers shed tears throughout its reading. It did for me.
Shellie’s description: Set primarily during the late 1940’s through the 50’s in a small Bayou town near New Orleans, the book’s main character, Bonaventure Arrow, his mother and paternal grandmother live in their wealthy home with its own chapel. Bonaventure’s a smart little boy that doesn’t speak a word, but it’s his amazing gift, an ability to hear impossibly subtle things, that in part gives this novel its magical realism quality.
The heartbreaking part of the story is that the main characters have lost a well-loved family member who, although good natured, is haunting them. Most of these characters are damaged, including the entity himself, who feels responsible for their pain; this is keeping the ghost in his worldly limbo as he tries to direct them. In the end it’s a Creole house-keeper (who has a touch of the sight) and Bonaventure himself who pull the story together, revealing the mysterious reasons for the deeper afflictions of their family and helping with its ultimate healing.
Shellie’s thoughts: All at once complex, perfectly interwoven and poetic, this is a wonderful novel that I read quickly. I liked that the author broke the text down into short chapters showing the perspective of each of the characters, creating a book that is easy to pick up and read for short periods. I also liked that all the characters are well developed and likeable, except for a multi-layered protagonist that most readers will love to hate - which is exactly as it should be.
Although I enjoyed this easy-to-read novel and mostly got lost in it, I do want to mention a couple of things that may bother some readers. Firstly, the author’s descriptions are nicely done but there are a lot of them, especially when it comes to the main character’s ability to hear very delicate and impossible things – so I did do some skimming. The second thing that registered for me was that I felt that there was a slight religious agenda imbued in the novel’s pages. However, with that said, Catholic readers will probably enjoy this novel a lot.
Don’t let my small complaints deter you in reading The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow. It’s recommended for women readers who enjoy magical realism, those who like a Southern setting and flavor, those who don’t mind quite a few tears, those wanting a mild religious feel to their reads, and anyone who likes in-depth poetic descriptions in their novels. I give this lyrical and sweet novel a 4 stars. (less)
Shellie’s quick take:A sweet and “bookish” story about a house that helps lost but tal...moreOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
2.5 stars actually.
Shellie’s quick take:A sweet and “bookish” story about a house that helps lost but talented women find themselves. It’s magical realism for female bibliophiles.
Shellie’s description: There is a special house near London located on a street called Hope. It calls to exceptional women to live in its walls when they are in crisis. What’s unusual about the house is that you cannot see it unless you have been chosen by it. In fact many famous women have arrived and received its help over its 200-year life and their pictures cover the walls.
As the story alternates between a handful of characters that are in need of assistance, we slowly get a picture of why the current set of women are there. They are then magically given what they require so that they can move on in their lives.
Shellie’s thoughts: On the plus side it’s an easy-to-hold and physically small book with some cute ideas. It has an eclectic group of gifted main characters including one that is over 60 and another that is LGBT. There is also an impressive list of the long-deceased prior inhabitants, whose ghosts visit its current residents with their advice and insight. With the dead’s accomplished mini bios at the end for reference, the book has a slight feminist perspective highlighting the women that have paved the way both for the current residents and for women in general.
However, even though it has chocolate, ghosts, fashion, romance and advice, it was a bit trite for my tastes. And sadly, though the story line gave me the desire to want to know what was going to happen to the characters, the writing did not pull me into the text and consequently I felt the desire to skip parts of it.
Do not let my slightly negative thoughts deter you; I am seeing positive reviews from a variety of readers. I did think the book was okay, but would not put in on my favorite list for magical realism. I would recommended it for literary-minded romance readers who want everything tied up neat and sweet in the end and who like a bit of magic in their reads. 2.5 stars for this debut novel.(less)