Monday, April 29, 2013
My take on: Seduction
The last book I read by M.J. Rose (The Book of Lost Fragrances) was a journey for the senses. Her latest book, Seduction, is a book for the mind. What do I mean by that? There are several storylines going on, but reincarnation and the supernatural are reoccurring themes. I don't know that I believe in such things, but M.J. Rose certainly makes you think about them.
This is the fifth book in Rose's Reincarnationist series, but I don't think you need to have read all of them. But it does help to have some context on the characters. Mythologist Jac L'Etoile is back, and her life is in a state of flux after the last book. She's questioning her sanity. One moment she's having a conversation in the present day, and the next her mind is pulling her into the past. The colors, the sounds, and the smells are changing around her. Is it real or imagined? Jac is afraid to explore either possibility. She just has to focus on the present, and focus hard. If she can do that, Jac will be ok. But a friend from the past offers an opportunity that's too good to resist.
Theo Gaspard, who once spent time in a mental institution with Jac, has stumbled upon the lost writings of novelist Victor Hugo. It's possible those writings hold the key to a Celtic mystery. Of course Jac can't resist. This is an opportunity to not only prove or disprove a myth, but it's also an opportunity to learn about herself. Maybe the visions will stop. Maybe she will go back to normal. If there is such a thing as normal. I kind of felt like I was inside Jac's head. You feel the highs and lows of someone who is struggling internally.
One of the other intriguing storylines is Victor Hugo himself. M.J. Rose puts a fictional and supernatural spin on Hugo's life following the death of his beloved daughter Didine. In the aftermath, Hugo and his family are devastated. They were very vulnerable. A fellow writer convinces Hugo and his family to take part in seances. They were able to communicate with Didine's spirit with what I presume was a crude Ouija board. I loved that part of the book. It was great to imagine what life and the supernatural element was like in the 1800s. Back then (I think) people were more willing to believe in mysticism. Hugo sought out mediums to communicate with not just Didine but the devil. I would think that would be a big no-no!! But if you're grieving, I guess you'll try anything.
I think the book is beautifully written. I just think several of the storylines could have stood on their own. I had the same problem I always have with books like this. Early on, I get attached to certain characters, but I have to wait several chapters before I can get back to their storyline. I think Jac is my favorite character. She has an air of vulnerability. Unraveling the mystery might be harmful to not just her psyche, but her safety. Despite the dangers, she's still willing to push forward. I don't think her story is finished, and I will definitely be back to see what happens.
Rating: Give it a try
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Simon & Schuster) as part of a blog tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours