Friday, 20 July 2012

Review of The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Description from Goodreads:

A young man is fighting for his life.
Into his room walks a bewitching woman who believes she can save him.
Their journey will have you believing in the impossible.

The nameless and beautiful narrator of The Gargoyle is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and wakes up in a burns ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned. His life is over - he is now a monster.

But in fact it is only just beginning. One day, Marianne Engel, a wild and compelling sculptress of gargoyles, enters his life and tells him that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly burned mercenary and she was a nun and a scribe who nursed him back to health in the famed monastery of Engelthal. As she spins her tale, Scheherazade fashion, and relates equally mesmerising stories of deathless love in Japan, Greenland, Italy and England, he finds himself drawn back to life - and, finally, to love.

Opening Quote:
Love is strong as death, as hard as hell. Death separates the soul from the body but love separates all things from the body.

When I was a kid, I devoured historical novels. While the other girls where mostly playing with barbies, the scenery of my childhood consisted of the imagined battlefield in the 100th year war between England and France, or travelling to the Indians on a merchants ship or the fantastical world of a futuristic Greenland after the ice has melted and women rule the land. In short: I was and still am a huge history nerd.

So the parts I loved best about this book were the glimpses in the past as told by Marianne. Sometimes they were about the past lives of her and our nameless narrator or the stories of Marianne's various friends. The setting of the tales vary from Japan to Iceland to 13th century Germany. For those who love history I certainly recommend this book.

The once beautiful (or so we are told repeatedly) main character of the book is scarred for life after a horrible accident. He was speeding in his fancy sports car while drunk and high and drove off a cliff. Most of his body is burned and it's still the question if he will get most of his bodily functions working again. While he's lying in the hospital he gives us an objective description of the burn which he researched, everything is told with a certain distant to it. Between the updates of his condition, he tells about his terrible home life. His mother died giving birth to him and it only went downhill from that point on. He's a good learner so he did finish High School, but afterwards he went from modeling to pornography. Now he's 35 with his own production company and makes decent money until the unfortunate accident.

As he tell us: "I'm not a nice person." and doesn't want to be healed. I could empathize with that since he was suffering awful pain and could never get back to the old him. Although he himself is aware that the past him and his past life wasn't that awesome. He's seriously contemplating suicide and has it all thought out until a strange women comes into his life. She tells him stories and reveals later that they were once lovers and that she was waiting for him all along. He thinks she's insane but still craves her company. Slowly through Marianne and with the help of the psychologist and the physical therapist he starts caring about life again. The road to redemption is not an easy journey but he's at least trying to get there.

I liked Marianne a lot as a character and you're constantly trying to figure her out. Because she's such a mystery, I couldn't really identify with her but her stories were great and so interwoven with details.

In the end I could have been more invested in the main characters but the awesome history made up for it.

4 stars 

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