Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Luminist by David Rocklin

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): Photography comprises the bright, tensile thread in the sweep of The Luminist, drawing tight a narrative that shifts between the prejudices and passions of Victorian England and those of colonial Ceylon. It binds the destinies of Catherine Colebrook, the proper wife of a fading diplomat, who rebels against every convention to chase the romance of science through her lens, and Eligius, an Indian teenager thrust into servitude after his father is killed demanding native rights. The Luminist is a weave of legend and history, science and art, politics and domesticity that are symphonic themes in the main title, the story of an enduring and forbidden friendship. Catherine and Eligius must each struggle with internal forces that inspire them and societal pressures that command them. Rocklin’s is a bold landscape, against which an intimate drama is poignantly played out. Just in this way, our minds recall in every detail the photo snapped at the moment of pain, while all the lovely scenes seem to run together.

And here's what I thought:   Okay.  I am going to start right here by saying that my review is going to be nowhere as well written as the review I saw yesterday.  So, if you would like to read an elegantly written, beautifully done-up review of this book, please click on over to What She Read.    

But here's what I thought:   Reading this book was like reading pure poetry.  It also was like going to a museum and seeing an intricate painting, full of fine detailing and shading.  Does that make sense?

This isn't a quick read.  Instead, this is a book meant to be read slowly, lingered over and digested.  I will admit, it didn't quite capture me right away, although the more I read, the more I found myself caught up in the story.   The author does require some devotion -- you can't skim anything here, or you'll become quite lost.   At times, I felt like I wasn't quite understanding what was happening, but then it would all start to come back together.   This book is beautifully written, and the story is compelling --- but I would make sure you have some time set aside once you decide to read it.    I will say that although the characters didn't always make me love them, I still found them very interesting.    Definitely not a book that I might have grabbed for myself based on the description, but I'm really glad that I read it.   I'll be interested to see if this will come out in audiobook at some point --- having the right person read this one would be quite the experience.   

Thanks very much to Tracee at Pump up Your Book for contacting me about this one !!  

First sentences:  The noises outside her window were of wind and the near sea, of clay chimes kilned to crystalline tones.  Natives not opposed to Britishers had strung them at off heights from the thatching of her bungalow roof to ward off demons during her pregnancy.  Their sound filled her sleep and informed her dreams.

Thoughts on the cover: A photograph taken by Julia Margaret Cameron, it's arresting -- I kept coming back to the cover while I was reading the book, and studying the details of this woman's face. 


Laurie @ What She Read said...

I so agree with you, Jo: A stellar reader could create an exceptional experience with this novel.
Thanks for the shout-out too, although I have to say that you're waxing equally eloquent yourself.

Julie K. Rose said...

The cover is amazing...I was hoping it was a story about Cameron, but this story sounds fantastic; just added to my GR shelf.

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