This was the second unlikely romance for me. This one was about a grumpy burn victim and a free spirited carver. The protagonist has a wonderful tone and his description of the opening scene did pull me into the book. I give this book 3 stars.
Here’s a breakdown…
My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers. Continue on at your own risk!
What is this book about?
The nameless narrator (a porn director / actor / producer) is in a car accident and burned to a crisp. In the hospital he meets someone (Marianne Engel) who claims they were together in the past. An unlikely romance occurs. She visits him and cares for him, but claims she is centuries old and that he is a re-incarnation of her true love. Although the narrator feels some guilt at allowing the relationship to continue (as he questions her sanity), he does (probably he has no other friends).
Marianne takes the narrator home to care for him (against the doctor’s recommendation), and she breaks him of his morphine habit (he was a former coke addict). She goes through periods where she carves gargoyle’s out of stone, and she believes that when she has finished the last one she will die (and she does walk into the ocean and disappear).
There are several ‘side’ stories that Marianne shares with the narrator: “The Good Ironworker”, “The Woman on the cliff”, “The Glassblowers apprentice” and “Siguror’s Gift”, and to be honest, I can’t remember what all of them were about.
What did I think about this book?
It seemed to go on for longer than I would have liked. According to my Kindle app the book was 468 pages, this is way too long for this type of story…
I did enjoy the main character’s voice, but some of the side stories lost me.
I believe the real mystery of the story (at least to me) is whether Marianne Engel’s story was real. She claimed to be centuries old and serving penance by giving away multiple hearts, her last which is for her true love, which she claims is the burn victim. It all sounds crazy, even to the narrator. In my opinion, given this is a fictional story, I do believe her story. I believe that in this world, she is centuries old and he is a reincarnation of her true love.
“You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.”
“The irony was not lost on me that after making all my money in the skin trade, I was now trading all my money for skin.”
“Heaven is an idea constructed by man to help him cope with the fact that life on earth is both brutally short, and paradoxically, far too long”
“The mouth is the front gate to all misfortune”
“I can state with some confidence that I hate fewer people than I used to. This may seem like a weak claim to personal growth, but sometimes these things should be judged by distance traveled rather than by current position.”
-If you like unlikely romance novels, you will probably enjoy this book.