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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Brilliant, allusive and riveting!

The Shadow Land: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova



                             

Vividly descriptive narrative flows across the pages of Kostava's work at once both musical and poetical. The opening pages draw you in. A veneer of haunting melody continues to engage. 
Alexandra Boyd has come to Bulgaria as a form of penance and a hope for renewal after her beloved brother Jack's death. Bulgaria was the place he'd always wanted to visit. A place from their childhood dreams and games.
An accidental meeting at a taxi ramp in Sofia leads Alexandra to a riveting chase and search across Bulgaria, all the time dogged by her personal loss, whilst uncovering the story of the people she seeks.  Finding an funeral urn misplaced with her luggage, shockingly affects Alexandra coming alongside as it does the memory of her own loss. This fuels the impetus for her decision to find the urn's owners. The quest  becomes paramount to all else.
This quest has Alexandra on a journey crisscrossing not only the geographical Bulgaria, but the memories of the past under communist rule and the fate of the urn's occupant, Stoyan Lazarov, a talented musician, and that of his family.
Through Stoyan's eyes in the past and his family in the present we see the enforced labor camps under Communist rule and their inhumane overseeing. We see the indomitable human spirit struggle for life when circumstances become too much for the body and soul to hold. The dark days of Stoyan's experiences are lightened by the memory methods he develops to engage a different reality, a separating from the concrete, and the awesome discipline of being somewhere other in the midst of hardship as he fights for survival.
The past is set against the present as Alexandra's journey encounters its own dangers--and joys. Alexandra 'could hear music, where there was no music.' A novel of hope!


A NetGalley ARC

*****

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