Published By The Penguin Group
Release Date: Today
Tristan Mourault, a Frenchman, and heir to a world renowned art collection featuring Impressionist masterpieces loses himself when sees young Karen Miller in San Francisco. He immediately decides he must have her and lets nothing deter him from that mission. The fact that she is only 15 is inconsequential, he believes he is saving her from the fate of the family she was born into. He does everything he can to win her trust and then makes the calculated plan for her disappearance. Within days Karen Miller no longer exists as she becomes Giselle, his daughter to the public, his lover in private.
The story then moves ahead 15 years to Devon, Washington. An almost magical town and Tristan and Giselle are part of the eccentric art world. Giselle has matured, married and has a daughter. But all is not perfect in this wonderland they have created. Her daughter discovers something that will turn all their lives sideways. Not everyone will survive the revelations uncovered.
I enjoyed what has been called a "haunting" novel. The title comes from a poem by Arthur Rimbaud entitled The First Evening and fits well with this story. The story has also been compared to Nabokov's Lolita. Quite an accomplishment for a debut novel.
I found it to be a suspenseful look at some extraordinary characters in some extraordinary situations. The plot kept the pages turning and then slowed in places to an almost maddening pace and then picked up and slowed again. It was written almost like a dance or a give and take relationship with the reader. Secrets continue to be revealed until the last page and even then this reader is still unsure of the real truth.
The author's descriptions of not only scenes but of the paintings that are key to the whole story are so vivid I was amazed to learn that there was not a real set of paintings to inspire her. They come alive in your mind's eye very easily.
I would encourage readers that after you have read the book to go to The Reader's Guide to learn more about the background of this novel. I will not post it here because there are spoilers in the guide.
It is a fine debut but I caution you to be aware of the ebb and flow because the further you get into the story you will envision the prize at the end. This is definitely a book to be savored slowly and allow it to unfold before you so you catch all the nuances of the story, like the chapter titles. There are many layers, this is more than a mystery, more than a psychological thriller, more than a philosophical look at look at how someone held captive acclimates. This a book that could leave a different impression on everyone who reads it. It can give you the shivers and make you feel a little guilty about enjoying a book that is filled with so much despair. I am anxious to see other reviews of this book and to read more by this author.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Viking. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”