If I had known that there was a ghost in this book, I would not have read it. Its presence almost made me not review it. But after reading this whole, long, slow book through to solve the mystery– when too many disparate parts come together intriguingly– I decided maybe I could write off the spiritualism aspect as only a literary device.
I thought the writing here was wonderful, although a bit dense. Most problematic, it jumped confusingly around through time, with multiple threads from various eras, tied together by a house. Often I wondered where we were in time and who was the main character of the moment, until I adjusted. However, if you stick with it, the end it all folds in on itself and the separate parts no longer feel irrelevant to each other.
I marked these bits of writing that I enjoyed:
- “He had a preacher’s zeal, a way of expressing opinions that minted them into gleaming currency. A habit of drawing people to him, of firing in them enthusiasms they hadn’t known were theirs, making all but himself and his convictions fade.”
- “The summer twilight cast a soporific glow, and Elodie was reluctant to spoil things.”
- “The office settled into a papery silence. The strip of sunlight had arrived on the far wall and was beginning its daily approach towards her desk.”
- “‘Each clock is unique,” he used to tell me. “And just like a person, its face, whether plain or pretty, is but a mask for the intricate mechanism it conceals.”
- “There was no such thing as the right time, he explained. Time was an idea: it had no end and no beginning; it could not be seen, or heard, or smelled. It could be measured, sure enough, but no words had ever been found to explain precisely what it was. As to the ‘right’ time, it was simply a matter of agreeing to agree.”
- “Free-floating anxiety circled in the air above her like a mosquito looking to land a sting.”
- “Elodie’s thoughts swarmed, dark feathered birds circling closer and closer.”
- “Anticipation had burned up any small talk.”
- “‘You are in love,” he said, “for that is exactly how love feels. It is the lifting of a mask, the revealing of one’s true self to another, and the forced acceptance, the awful awareness, that the other person may never feel the same way.”
- “Leonard lacked the silvery flint of frivolous conversation.”
- “…the memory of his brother shifted in sleep.”
- “It was not love at first sight. Such claims make a mockery of love. It was a presentiment. An inexplicable awareness that something important had happened. Some moments are like that: they shine like gold in a prospector’s pan.”
- “… a woman whose grand dreams had withered to form a net that contained her.”
- “…when one gets old, all memories have a weight, even the happy ones.”
- “‘Being a parent’s a breeze,” came Alan’s cheerful voice on the wind. ‘No more difficult than flying a plane with a blindfold on and holes in your wings.”
- “How remarkable that the human race valued the lives of its individual members sufficiently to commemorate each one’s brief time on the ancient earth; and yet, at once, could engage in slaughter of the most meaningless and general kind.”
- “People value shiny stones and lucky charms, but they forget that the most powerful talismans of all are the stories that we tell to ourselves and to others.”
- “I am the hands of the clock and the space in between.”
Anyway… this is the last book I finished from 2018. I give it three stars. On to 2019!