“Samyann is a Chicago native, who has a lifelong fascination with the rich history of her city, coupled with an abiding curiosity about the intersection of past, present, and future”, states the biography. With a central focus around the American Civil War and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the genre presented is that of a historical novel. But, it is also ‘a tender love story’, a romantic tale of reincarnation, and a story with considerable insight into the savage quagmire of being human across the ages. The dialogue highlights the context, with characters that come alive across telling cameos.
The author engages readers with psychotherapeutic Past Life Regression, historical heart-breaking facts and anecdotes, interspersed with a burgeoning romance. Intriguing anecdotes are skillfully woven together with an antiquarian theme that resonates during the rather hypnotic chime of the grandfather clock. One is literally drawn back to heroine Amanda’s baby-blues during the stor(ies) that morph throughout the novel.
Certain symbols form intriguing sub-text or sub-stories that captivate the reader, with the odd dash of Irish Celtic expression and nostalgic tales of bells that apparently sing like angels. These side-liners make a colourful context possible, and aid the imagination in creating strong visuals as the central story unfolds. Readers connect with topics that are controversial or hard-to-believe, and at times seem fantastical, although they are, in fact, grounded in reality and possibility. Thus, the book slides into an unexpected page-turner.
When Mark and Amanda meet under dire circumstances, Mark feels irrevocably drawn to Amanda – almost as if he already knows her. The two show definitive character appeal early on – they subconsciously represent different sides to the same coin, mediated by lovable godmother Mary. They also fight for the possibility that love can be found and expressed in unique and individual ways.
With an interesting vernacular that adds a distinct element of humanness in the dialogue, recreated through Southern charm and the relationships between the local negroes and their white charges, the atmosphere around the Civil War is scarily brought to life. There is a tangible and authentic presence of the ‘other’ story within a story – and a great post-modern tilt.
All of this sounds intellectually driven. It isn’t. These observations are about the elements through which this novel can be appreciated, with impressions about the ways in which the author’s intent and artistic inspiration reveal a carefully constructed story well worth reading. If you liked The Time Traveller’s Wife, you’ll find yourself drawn in, and equally captivated but for different reasons, as there is less ‘science fiction’ and more grounding in realistic principles of a subject that has proven research and a great deal of heart and mind combined behind it.
This novel has clearly been edited as there few errors, if any, and this is much appreciated as it helps the story flow and avoids distractions. I therefore rated the book 4 out of 4.
Wow, wonderful review. Thank you!