September 16, 2008

The Gargoyle: Review

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Burned and deformed, the narrator of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle thoroughly plans an elaborate and definite suicide upon his release from the hospital. He was once a beautiful man with a successful career as a porngrapher. He knows he hasn't led a good life and without his looks, he's left alone and penniless. He has nothing left to live for...until a beautiful yet mentally ill woman, Marianne Engle, enters his room one day and tells him they were once lovers 700 years ago.

Of course, he doesn't believe her but her presence helps keep his mind off his pain and the horrible treatment he must go through. Marianne entertains him with the story of how they met when she was a scribe at a famous convent in Germany during the 14th century. However, as she tells him their story she also tells him tales of doomed lovers, tales of love and sacrifice. The narrator finds himself working harder to get well so he can hear the rest of the story.

Upon his release, he moves in with Marianne where he witnesses her frightening, frenzy as she sculpts gargoyles in her basement. She claims her 'three masters' demand that she give her 27 hearts to the monsters in the stone for God. She works to exhaustion and can't manage to take care of herself. Now this injured man must take care of this sick woman, while he battles demons of his own.

I can't say enough how much I loved this book. At the beginning, I was reeled in by the *narrator's story of how he ended up in the hospital. It was difficult to like such a nasty person other than to feel sympathy for his situation. As his psychiatrist tells him, he thinks he knows more than anybody else. It's an annoying trait but his natural curiosity opens the door for Marianne and a change within him begins.

I enjoyed how it was written with the jumps between the present and the past. However, I found myself skipping pages to see how the story Marianne told would turn out. Bad me! Needless to say, it was a page turner. The research for the novel was impressive. Not only the medieval research but also the burns and the treatment. (Just a heads up here....the description of his burns and the treatment he receives is pretty graphic.) I was struck by imagery throughout of snakes, gargoyles, Dante's Inferno. Davidson wove that theme of The Inferno through the novel. It has a deep meaning for many of the characters.

Despite seeming like a dark novel, it's actually a story about love and redemption. Although Marianne is the main focus of his new life, I enjoyed his friendships with Gregor, Nan, Sayuri and even Jack. There is so much hope in this book. I'm so glad this is a Canadian author because Canadian books have a reputation of being gloomy. In fact, I'm bumping a book out of the Canadian Books Challenge and putting this one in it's place. It will be hard to beat as my favorite of the year.

Highly recommended

*Usually a nameless narrator gets on my nerves but I didn't mind it here.

16 comments :

  1. This looks really good! Thanks for the review. I have it on order at Amazon as we speak.

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  2. I can't wait to read this one. I heard it's dark, and I especially love those types of books.

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  3. I'm on the hold list at our library for the audiobook version and looking forward to it very much.

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  4. I completely agree! It's still the best book I've read this year. So, do you think she's nutters or do you think she's genuinely the reincarnation she claims to be? (and do you remember the hallucination that causes the accident?)

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  5. Hey Chris,
    My RL bookie friend has been raving about this one since we got back to school. I'm a little leery because I've seen some mixed reviews, but people who liked it, loved it.
    I'm still thinking.
    I'm surprised it wasn't nominated for the Giller longlist.

    Great review.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Hi, thanks for the review (I'm writing from the UK publisher). You might be interested, maybe?, in dropping by the UK site, http://www.the-gargoyle.co.uk/ and posting thoughts on your favourite chapters. Here's hoping.

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  8. Carrie- Oh good!

    Anna- Yes, it's a nice mix of dark and light, I think.

    Jena- I would love to ask the author that! Logically, I'd think she some kind of crazy but there were unexplainable things.

    Raidergirl- I've seen that too. All you can do is find for yourself, right?

    Canongate- Thanks.

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  9. Your review is so good. I am putting this on my TO BUY list.

    Can i ask you how you changed your layout? I am on blogger too and I found a layout I liked.

    Thanks

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  10. Thanks Cindy!

    I changed my layout a while back. I found a website with free blog layouts. They have a code you download. Then I went into Layout on my Dashboard, Edit HTML and pasted the code into 'Edit Template'. Make sure to save your current template in case you mess it up (I've had to use it). The only thing was that all my sidebars disappeared and I had to put them all back in. That was a hassle.

    Good luck!

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  11. I keep seeing this everywhere lately and thinking it looks really interesting. The cover artwork is great and it sounds like a great read. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  12. I've heard a lot of good things about this book, but this is the first time I read a full description of the characters and plot. Just from reading the description it doesn't sound like something I would like, yet every review I have seen seems to be positive. I may have to give this one a chance.

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  13. Alyce- Yes, it's sounds like it should be terrible but the story just pulled me in.

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  14. Ok. I'm not sure why I've been holding off on this one. I'll move it up in the reading queue. Great review.

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  15. I loved this book too! I've added a link to your review on my post.

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  16. terrific reveiw. thanks. I just finished listening to the audio version and enjoyed it alot. will link to your review when I post mine.

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