Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: Burning Marguerite by Elizabeth Inness-Brown

Burning Marguerite by Elizabeth Inness-Brown

Reviewed by Christine-Chioma

Published: 2003

It's about: The book begins with James Jack, a middle-aged man, finding the woman who raised him, "Tante" Marguerite, dead and laying in the middle of the woods. The book unravels the mystery of how she ended up there by telling the story of her life and how it intertwined with his.

I thought: During the majority of the book I enjoyed the backstory more than the mystery at the center of the novel until I realized they were the same thing. Innes-Brown does a good job of slowly unfolding the details of Marguerite Deo's life. She has a really good sense of place and capturing settings in this novel. The island Jame and Marguerite live on feels very real. The writing is lyrical and poetic without being over the top and fits the story quite well. There was a theme of fire and burning which was well-woven into the stories.

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf or Rubbish Bin? In-between. I could take it or leave it. It's not a book that will stay with me forever, although I did enjoy reading it. It was beautifully written and I think some people would really love this book. It just wasn't my favorite, but I would read it again without hesitation. How's that for ambivalence? It's weird enough that you might want to check it out from the library before you commit to buying it.

Reading Recommendations: One of my book clubs picked this for our "Halloween" read and I think it was perfect. It definitely has some eerie elements to it and it's a quick read, but it's still literary.

Warnings: Violence, some sexual scenes at around the PG-13 level, some language.

Favorite excerpts:"When we reached the top that afternoon, what we saw confused us. Smoke rising from a red shanty, a truck, nose down in open water and sinking; people clustered and scurrying; the huge arc of water spraying. We didn't see what happened, what calamity had caused all this."

 "She introduced me to what I had missed as a child, extending my education into new areas of literature, art, philosophy, history. I found myself able to think more clearly, able to consider the past in a new light. Even able to see my parents as they really were, and able to forgive them at least for the things over which they had no control."

"The snow had long since stopped, the sky had cleared, and the winter darkness crackled with stars. The wind was calm for a change. The plowed road had that dry, frozen feel. Every sound was small and contained...the cedars along the lake road seemed to be holding themselves back, pulling into their own shadows, hiding from his headlight.