- “Reading a book, for me at least, is like traveling in someone else’s world. If it’s a good book, then you feel comfortable and yet anxious to see what’s going to happen to you there, what’ll be around the next corner.”
Summary: Marshall France was a legend in the world of books – children’s fantasy stories to be exact, till one day he just stopped writing and disappeared. Thomas Abbey, an English teacher, is an aspiring writer and a Marshall France enthusiast. When Abbey happens to meet Saxony Gartener, a fellow Marshall France lover; they together decide to do something that Thomas has been dreaming of for ever – write France’s biography. After much effort, the two end up in Galen, Marshall France’s hometown – hoping to persuade his daughter, Anna, to let them write the book. Soon, they realize that the town has some dark secret. Meeting a talking dog is the final straw, before Abbey realizes that France’s fantasy world isn’t entirely fantastical.
My thoughts: I liked three fourths of the book. It is a book-lover’s dream: the way they obsess over France’s books, his characters, his magical worlds. The characters are wonderfully written; Thomas Abbey, the English teacher who is the son of the most famous film-maker and has always lived under his shadow. Marshall France’s books have had a great influence on him as a child, and even now. Then there is Saxony Gardner, the woman who shares an equal passion for France’s books, so much that she encourages Abbey to go through with his plans of writing the biography, and decides to assist him herself. Along with Anna France, the town of Galen is like every small town you have ever read about, quiet and private but lovable. They are also the proud owners of Marshall France’s memories. Together, the stage is set beautifully for a magical story to unfold. Only, it doesn’t.
Ever since Thomas discovers the town’s dark secret, things become entirely chaotic. The story takes a sudden turn and starts running in that direction. Before you have time to digest what you’ve read, more information is thrown upon you, and just when you place it together, the book reaches an abrupt end. The story is great, but it is too rushed. And the writing is great, but it doesn’t seem like one book. There is no continuity; it’s as if it is written by too different writers; at one point, the author takes time to describe a stranger’s nails, and at another point; he ends a life in five words.
Like I said, I fell in love with three fourths of the book. The end ruined it for me. It is an eerily beautiful and unique story – but it could have been so much more.