24/04/2014

Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender {Leslye Walton}


 
Ava Lavender was born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition, and a growing desire to fit in, Ava delves into the wider world, ill-prepared for the twisted motives of others. Those whose obsession with her angelic form, end Ava's quest to find herself in a devastating crescendo.

This layered and unforgettable mythology of Ava and her family explores what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.
 
 http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0990662624?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0990662624&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21 

 
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows is a book not easily described. As the title suggests, it is about Ava Lavender and her odd, often woeful life. But it is also about her entire family and the history of them and the house they live in.

Though the story is told through Ava's eyes, for the first 100 pages or so, she is simply a narrator chronicling the lives of her great-grandmother, her grandmother and her mother. This is truly an epic saga, exploring the hearts of many women, and how the most insignificant of moments may have contributed to Ava's predicament.

Ava navigates through the tales of the women in her family, as well as the tales of others who have either lived in the house she resides in, or in her town. Individuals whose existence has irrevocably influenced Ava's own life, even posthumously.

At first, a lot of the information seems irrelevant, overly fanciful, and at times, due to the heavy chunks of prose only broken by sparse moments of speech, it can be quite daunting. But each is a story that needs to be told.

The villain in this book, like Ava herself, is not someone we get to meet until the novel is well underway. At first he seems harmless, but as his twisted obsession grows, this pious individual develops a craving for the angelic Ava that is only satiated by the most disturbing acts, culminating in Ava's truest sorrow.

This was extraordinarily well-done, especially in the form of Henry's (Ava's twin) ominous warnings, which could only be deciphered once it was too late. It's worth noting that this story is not to be taken lightly. Not only is the plot unwaveringly intricate; the subject matter at times disturbing; the journeys long and slow-moving; the writing intensely vivid and melodic. But Leslye Walton writes a story that blurs the line between fantasy and reality to an extent I've never seen before. 

Logic is somewhat out of place in all of the tales our older, wiser Ava weaves. We are thrown into a historical world of birds, ghosts, fading women, (literal) bleeding hearts and love, that for all its merit, somehow never seems to conquer all.  Outlandish, nonsensical statements are made, and crazy, surprising things take place. And the characters in the story accept them as though they are the norm.

This is a book that takes Magical Realism to the extreme; everything is surreal, and when we are told things we might, in our right minds, consider foolish or ludicrous, while reading this book it's essential to 'go with the flow' and embrace the beautiful ridiculousness of it all.

Though the beginning of this book was hard to get in to, once we reached Ava's story I was mystified by Walton's soothing and rich prose, which combined whimsy with an enthralling beauty. I became fascinated by Ava and her family and found myself desperate to reach the devastating conclusion, but also hesitant to have this strangely wonderful book end. If you're willing to tough it out, this truly is a magical read. And those last few lines were a story in itself.

"Love, as most know, follows its own timeline. Disregarding our intention or our well-rehearsed plans." 

 
 

 

Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart.
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16 comments:

  1. Fantastic review! I really want to read this book now. It sounds strange, but worth it. Adding to my TBR list as we speak! :D

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    1. It's definitely strange, but I think it's worth a try!

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  2. What an awesome review Allie, you really captured the magical realism and bizarre, whimsical aspect of this read! I'm glad you enjoyed it, it was possibly a bit too out there for me.

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    1. I can see why you had issues - honestly, for the first half of the book I was debating DNFing. But I absolutely loved the second half, so I'm glad I stuck with it :D

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  3. I just got this one so now I'm really anxious to read it, and now that I know what to expect in the beginning I should be a little more tolerant ;) Looks like it's better now to question all the happenings in this one, either, haha. I do love how unique it sounds though!

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    1. It is definitely one of the most crazy, completely unique stories I've read. The trick when reading this is to just take everything with a pinch of salt. It's a lot more enjoyable that way!

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  4. eee I love magic realism so I'm super excited to read this. I have it checked out from the library but have been saving it. great review!

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    1. Oooh, how can you stand to have such a pretty cover and not crack it open?!

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  5. Sometimes it's hard to get absorbed into a book when you don't quite click with the writing style immediately, but this sounds like something where once you get used to it, it's beautiful. I'm definitely going to have to give this one a try though! It sounds really unique and original! Thanks so much for sharing Allie, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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    1. I think the issue a lot of people may have with this is the fact that it's full of vivid prose, with hardly any speech to break it up. Couple that with all the craziness, and it makes for a very intense and strange writing style. Definitely a marmite book, but I honestly think nobody can argue how fantastically written it is!

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  6. This sounds fantastic, even if it takes some time getting used to. I love when an author can blur the lines between fantasy and reality well, and I haven't read a book like that in quite some time. I look forward to picking this one up. :) Gorgeous review, Allie!

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    1. If this book accomplishes anything, it is definitely that it blurs ALL THE LINES. Between fantasy and reality and life and death and love and hate. It's quite fabulous in that respect

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  7. Oh wow, this sounds really odd and intriguing! The beginning and not really meeting Ava for a while sounds like it would indeed be difficult! But it also sounds exciting and the mix of fantasy and realism sounds beautiful! I might have to add this one to my TBR! Your review paints a pretty picture "I was mystified by Walton's soothing and rich prose, which combined whimsy with an enthralling beauty" it's nice when a pretty book can inspire pretty words in reviews too. Does that make sense and not sound weird? Nope? Well, it was meant to be really nice!

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    1. Doesn't sound weird at all! I actually find a lot of my reviews tend to match the tone of the book it's about strangely enough :) if it's a light, fluffy contemporary, my reviews tend to be more snappy and fun. But if it's a deep read like this, I definitely get a bit philosophical and my reviews

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  8. I'm not sure I could get into that writing style. I'm happy to see you enjoyed this overall! Great review. :)

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    1. It definitely takes a lot of getting used to! It's so unlike anything I've ever read before, but I think that's part of the charm :)

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