My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Right at the laptop now so this book. I’m not sure really what I want to say about it because – on the face of it – there’s no one real single point of focus. It’s a story which needs to be read to be experienced.
Not everyone is going to like it. I suspect it may be a marmite book because I honestly don’t think you could be indifferent to it. It stirs passions. At times Simon infuriated me so much I could hardly think, at others I just wanted to pour all my love into his heart and stop him hurting.
This is also a very European book. It oozes out of every word. This is Prague in all her ancient and medieval glory, a city of contrasts, a city where a father could be a threatening violent alcoholic and it would pass under the water.
It’s also a book about words, about emotions, about how the mind works. It’s a book which touches on the life of one of my favourite poets Arthur Rimbaud and his crazy life with fellow poet Paul Verlaine and includes lines from one of my absolute favourite pieces of poetry A Season in Hell
Once, if I remember rightly, my life was a feast where all hearts opened, and all wines flowed.
One evening I sat Beauty on my knees – And I found her bitter – And I reviled her.
(Find out more about him here.)
Rimbaud’s relationship with Verlaine mirrors how Simon sees his with his young student Matej Chrs. He is left in limbo, all colour leached out of the world, relying only on his strength of will not to crumble.
Oh, I could go on about the symbolism, the beautiful use of words and imagery, I could tell you about how Simon slowly, oh so slowly, changed in my perception from a cold, locked off shell of a man into one who I just wanted to put in bubble wrap and protect from the ravages of his own staggering intellect.
And Matej. He’s almost an enigma. For much of the book we only have Simon’s remembrances and recollections. He seems flighty, willing to turn loose and perhaps unwittingly, inflict pain on those he professes to love the most.
But he’s so much more than that and when he returns to the narrative in his own right, all the colours come flooding back, including the angry ones.
Roe Horvat is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors. Their use of the English language to evoke emotions and inspire feelings really is genius.
#ARC received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review