Farundell by L R Fredericks
|Farundell by L R Fredericks|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: An intriguing novel combining a passionate love story with ethereal beings, astral travel and an eccentric aristocratic family between the two World Wars. It takes a while for the story to take off, but once it did I quite liked it... don't ask me what it was about, but I liked it. I can quite understand why it's been compared with basil ice cream.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: August 2010|
|Publisher: John Murray|
|External links: Author's website|
American Paul Asher is damaged by memories and dreams originating from World War I, or at least he thinks that's where they're from. Once the war is over and, as he's estranged from his father in the US, Paul decides to remain in the UK to find work. Work comes to him as he's asked to assist Lord Percy Damory at Farundell, the Damory ancestral home. Paul's job is straightforward: Sir Percy needs someone to whom he can dictate memoirs of a well-travelled life among distant tribes. However Paul's life at Farundell will be anything but straightforward thanks to the Damorys' apparent eccentricities, an ancestor from the 18th century who refuses to be labelled as a ghost and, of course, there's Sylvie.
When you read a book by someone who includes in her interests 'the pursuit of Shamanism' and believes that a novel shouldn't be fully understandable on the first reading, you know there's an implicit dare. It was therefore with that feeling of impending challenge that I started to read American L R Fredericks' Farundell', the first novel in her loosely connected Time and Light series.
The central character and the readers' eyes and ears, Paul, spent the war as a medical orderly and so is physically complete. However the sights, sounds and smell of the dead and dying haunt him as they did many of his generation. To begin with he thinks the sights and experiences of Farundell are part of this haunting and a descent into madness. But he's taken in hand by 13 year old, precocious (not in a good way) astral traveller, Alice Damory and his limited understanding is enhanced. Jarlath Quinn (an artist with other, less worldly skills, apparently) and Stephen (tutor to Alice and her siblings) assist in developing Paul's consciousness.
This is certainly an unpredictable story, often making me feel as if I was floundering in the understanding department. There's the main story: Paul wants job, Paul gets job, Paul goes to Farundell and lives with a family who define the word 'quirky'. However there's also a wispy other-worldliness that lurks mistily. Like someone grasping for a life raft, I felt I would be fine as long as I avoided the mist and concentrated on the main story, but, as I gained confidence, the mist started to intrigue me. This also coincided with the arrival of the spoilt, feisty, beautiful Sylvie and the point where, about a third of the way in, the novel starts to take off. Once Sylvie arrives we're launched into a love story full steam ahead. Paul wants to pin Sylvie down (in oh so many ways) but Sylvie is her own woman, so let pursuit commence. (Just a warning: there is one very graphic sex scene that's seemingly designed to shock, along with associated explicit language. It is just this one episode, so easily 'fast forwarded' if you'd rather but not a scene for those anyone whom you don't feel is mature enough to be ready.)
She may kick start the action, but I didn't like Sylvie. Not for any literary reason as she's well written, just that she's a product of her upbringing and not a nice person. Paul is bland and seems to act more as a catalyst in the novel than an active constituent, until his ire is ignited. For me the joys of Farundell are the cantankerous, elderly Sirs Francis and Percy. Also I'd have liked a bit more of Jarlath; everyone spoke of his magical powers but they weren't evident.
Throughout the novel, though, there remains an elephant in the room: when all the dreams, cryptic comments and other ephemera are considered, what's it all about? Well, I think it hints of death, life, dreams and wakefulness all being connected like a cosmic Venn diagram. It seems to say that separation doesn't exist and doors in the mind, once opened, release dimensions existing in what we term 'the real world'... maybe. Perhaps these questions will be answered in the second book, Fate, due for release in July 2012. If nothing else we've been promised more of Lord Francis and that, for me at least, makes it an eagerly awaited publishing date.
If you've enjoyed this (and even, perhaps if you haven't) try Fate. The second in the author's loosely linked Time and Light Series is totally different in both story, feel and, indeed, writing style.
You can read more book reviews or buy Farundell by L R Fredericks at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Farundell by L R Fredericks at Amazon.com.
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