The Perfume Garden: A Novel by Kate Lord Brown
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was tricked into reading this book by it's enticing cover and deceiving description. It promised to be a riveting read about survival, life and death in Spain during the revolution. Not having read many novels about the Spanish revolution (other than The Shadow of the Wind which was exemplary), I was excited to enjoy some historical fiction that hopefully had some facts sprinkled in.
Unfortunately, the dialogue was childish and the characters undeveloped. The protagonist Emma was annoying and boring. It almost seemed as those the author read a Wikipedia article about the Spanish revolution and then worked those facts into random parts of the dialogue. There was no seamless weaving of fact and fiction to be had.
Some of the cringe worthy writing included:
A woman with a dark veil turned and pursed her lips "Shh". Emma's reverie broke, and she met his gave for the first time. She felt like she had come to the end of a long journey.
"(...)Don't bother dressing on our account, Luca," he said, raising his eyebrows at Emma. "Not bad for an old man, eh?"
"Who are you calling an old man?" Luca laughed.
"What do you think, Emma?" Guillermo leaned toward her.
Luca glanced back at her as he walked away. "Are you two checking out my ass?" He smiled as he stepped into the cool shadows of the apartment.
Much of the dialogue did not match the tone of the novel, or rather, the tone that the writer was attempting to convey. Even the descriptions of the atrocities that the Republicans suffered through post-war were boring and bland, characters reciting terrible things that had happened. It seemed as though true emotions were never plumbed or even slightly conveyed in any manner.
Emma ended up seeming vapid and boring. Her anger over being cheated on felt fake and insincere. All of her emotions seemed to be a bit robotic and there was no encompassing sensation of love or anger or hatred that seemed to have any PASSION.
If this novel hadn't been about the Spanish war and the consequences that followed...If it had been a simple romance without any promising back story, it would perhaps have been more palatable. Instead, I was left feel cheated by a novel that seemed to lack any genuine emotion.
2/5 and don't bother.
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