An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time.Okay, I will admit it, when this book first came out, I read the description and automatically decided that it was not something that I would like. Romance in novels is fine, but I am not the sort that reads books that are marketed as romance. So, I never expected to find myself reading this book. It was a combination of positive reviews and retellings of the synopsis that made me decide to give the book a chance, and I am so glad that I did! I loved it! It was different than anything I had read before, really, and once I got caught up in the pages I found that I had a very hard time putting it down! And, to think, I almost didn't read it at all!
On a burn ward, a man lies between living and dying, so disfigured that no one from his past life would even recognize him. His only comfort comes from imagining various inventive ways to end his misery. Then a woman named Marianne Engel walks into his hospital room, a wild-haired, schizophrenic sculptress on the lam from the psych ward upstairs, who insists that she knows him – that she has known him, in fact, for seven hundred years. She remembers vividly when they met, in another hospital ward at a convent in medieval Germany, when she was a nun and he was a wounded mercenary left to die. If he has forgotten this, he is not to worry: she will prove it to him.
And so Marianne Engel begins to tell him their story, carving away his disbelief and slowly drawing him into the orbit and power of a word he'd never uttered: love.
It really surprises me that this is Andrew Davidson's first novel. It is so refreshing and the writing so well-done, you would think you were reading a later novel. It is the story of love, like the book synopsis lead me to believe, but it is so much more! It has two very interesting main characters: A man that has been nearly burned to death in a fire and a woman that lives in what most people believe is a fantasy world. They come together, though, and create a story that I would happily read again right now! The story changes through different time periods, so it is not just set in stone. It covers medieval England and then moves closer to modern day. Marianne is a story-teller, and as I was reading the words I could picture her sitting beside me telling them. She was such a vibrant character she jumped off the pages!
Now, to be honest, I didn't know until the end how much I loved the book. I think since it was a bit different than my usual reading that I was resistant to it, but by the last 150 pages, I was glued to it! This book is seeing a lot of blogging activity, so it seems rather pointless to rehash the plot when so many other people already have, but it such a worthwhile read! Will everyone love it? Probably not. We are talking about a former porn star and a former nun falling in love. It is not exactly a story that will sit well with everyone who comes across it, but Davidson writes in such a way that even the unusual seems believable. You find yourself wanting to believe that everything that is written is entirely plausible, even if it seems like the craziest thing possible.
All I can say is I cannot wait until he writes something else, but it will be very difficult to follow this book! I am really surprised I liked this book as much as I did, though. It is a keeper for sure and I recommend it strongly!
My thanks to Random House for this book! It is also counts towards The Second Canadian Challenge, Eh! The Kelley Armstrong book I read the other day could too, I just thought of. I am going to have to count and see where I stand, I think I am almost done!