Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Art of Devotion, by Samantha Bruce-Benjamin

The Art of DevotionAdora, Miranda, Sophie, Genevieve.  Four women whose lives are irreversibly intertwined.  Adora and Sophie are mother and daughter, as are Miranda and Genevieve, yet some bonds are stronger than blood.  Ever since childhood, Genevieve has been spending her summers with Adora, and trying her hardest to imitate her.  Adora pampers the girl, and grooms her to point where she even arranges her first real encounter with love in the form of the dashing Jack.  Unfortunately, Adora does all this to fill a void left years earlier by the death of her beloved brother Sebastian.  As the situation continues to play out, each woman realizes just how little they really knew each other.

It is so hard to believe that this is a debut novel.  It is written as though by a seasoned author.  Samantha Bruce-Benjamin showcases extraordinary talented through the voices of these four women narrators.  I am absolutely stunned with the way these women's characters are developed throughout this novel, the precision with which their backstories are revealed, piece by piece, until, at the very end, everything comes together to form a larger picture.  Just when you think you have figured out which woman to trust, you encounter another plot twist, another character defect.

This story was haunting, and luxurious.  Set on an un-named Mediterranean island, the story seemed, at times, almost lyrical, and exotic.  I loved that the story unraveled the way that it did, because it made me hungry for the next page, chapter, and narrative voice.  As is common with stories that change voice, I started out worried that I would confuse characters, action, and sequence, but very quickly, I realized the fluidity of the book, and all fears flew away.

I mourn for the women of this book, for all of them.  Each suffers so much loss.  There is a recurrent theme that we are each born to fully love just one other person, regardless whether that is a romantic love, or a love of family bond or friendship.  I wonder if any of these four ever really finds their one love.

A brilliant, heartbreaking, glorious novel.  Bravo Samantha Bruce-Benjamin, bravo.

A touring review copy of this book was provided courtesy of Crazy Book Tours.