The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson. Pub 2008
I read this book when it first came out in 2008, and was blown away by it then. While it’s been one I often think of as being an old favourite, I had never reread it, and actually had little memory of what it was actually about other than some specific details – tattoos, sculpting, fire, and coffee. Rereading it now was like encountering it anew.
Inventive and engaging, the complex story of Marianne Engel and the narrator (whose name we never learn) runs from the early 1300s to modern day, and is completely captivating. The narrator in modern times suffers severe burns in a car accident and is slowly convalescing in hospital. During this time, Marianne begins visiting him, telling long and lovely stories about (she says) their past, dating back 700 years. As she (re)kindles their love and takes on his care and convalescence, there are portents of the doomed end to come for them. These are reflected in her stories and her mysterious and more erratic behaviour as the story progresses. By the end, we share the narrator’s desire to believe that her stories were true, and in her prophesies, as unbelievable as they are.
If the novel has themes, they are love and faith, and the power of each to either restore or destroy. Throughout the love story, the question and reality of faith – religious, spiritual, and other – returns again and again, so that love becomes an article of faith, something that is tested again and again, is fragile and dependant on belief, and is a foundation for life and existence.
I adore this book, and am so very glad I returned to it.
Fate: I don’t know what happened to my original copy, but this new book will be staying on my own shelf for a possible reread someday.
1 – a book with a murder in it
7 – an author’s debut book
13 – set somewhere I’ve never been (Germany, Iceland, Japan, Italy, Los Angeles)
28 – an old favourite
33 – Canadian author
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