Muriel Barbery's new novel is the first of two books about Maria and Clara, unforgettable heroines of a world facing annihilation. Read more...
Muriel Barbery's new novel is the first of two books about Maria and Clara, unforgettable heroines of a world facing annihilation. Animated by a large cast of endearing characters, it is a timeless story about the forces of good and evil and a moving meditation on the power of nature, music, art, storytelling, and love.
When the harmony between living beings turns to discord, the seasons will be loosed from their moorings and the natural world thrown into disarray; human beings no longer capable of feeling either empathy or enchantment will abandon themselves to hate, violence, and war.
An epic battle between forces that wish to reestablish harmony in the world and those that wish to shatter it definitively is being waged on earth and in the mysterious land of mist, where the elves dwell. A ragtag army of rural peasants gathers in readiness for the fight their weapons, an age-old kinship with the land and an affinity for magic. But humankind cannot hope to win this battle alone. Victory depends on help from the inhabitants of a world that is hidden from human sight. Hope rests with Maria and Clara, two girls whose prodigious artistic talents and deep connections with nature make communion with the numinous realm possible."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-04
- Reviewer: Staff
In an unnamed year, France and Italy are home to small groups of elves living precariously among dangerous humans. Two young girls can bridge the gap between human and elven cultures and save the elves, but only if they survive a story whose urgency doesn’t match its pace. Anderson captures the rich, beautiful language of Barbery (Gourmet Rhapsody), such as “the noble dust of cellars” and “childhood is the dream that allows us to understand what we do not yet know.” Despite elven politics, Christianity, and war, the plot feels secondary and downplayed. Distant narration, exemplified by an entire chapter without dialogue and phrases like “It must be told what this child was,” draw attention to the words, not the characters. Just as battle is coming, readers are stopped by descriptions of the numerous participants, breaking the tension and typifying a reading experience in which the parts are greater than the whole. (Feb.)