If you are looking for a straightforward action story, do not read this book. If you are 100% anchored in reality, maybe take a pass. If, however, you are on vacation, like to think about alternate realities, or don’t mind a love story which stretches far beyond the “normal” lives of two people, find a way to get your hands on The Book of Pearl.
I think it’s fair to say that Timothée de Fombelle has reached a status with me that almost touches Kathi Appelt. I sought this book out, ordering a copy from England when I didn’t see it in the libraries around me. (Apparently, on further research, it won’t be released in the U.S. until Feb. 2018. So that’s why…) I loved de Fombelle’s Vango stories and have recommended them to several kids who like action but also appreciate good writing and story development and all kinds of twists and turns. He’s not a popular author in the U.S., I don’t think, but maybe he should be.
And the extra work was worth it. It’s a beautiful book, although maybe not one that you’d want to try to read in just a chapter a day. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, characters who dip in and out and who might just seem to inhabit the fringes until suddenly they don’t. There is evil and loss and quite a bit of sadness, but the joyful moments are almost luminous. (I’m assuming the translators get some gold stars for that, too.)
It’s the perfect book for a long afternoon of quiet in a state forest. Detach from technology and give it a try. It’s not exactly a happy ending, but hey—he’s French. Deal with it.
The Book of Pearl by Timothée de Fombelle