Friday, December 4, 2015

Reading the Alphabet, Part S

There's quite the range of authors on the S shelves at the library, from J.D. Salinger to Mary Shelley, Nicholas Sparks to Danielle Steele. There are serious authors like Saramago and Steinbeck, popular authors like See and Scottoline, and several of my personal favorites like Mary Stewart, Simone St. James and Yrsa Sigurdardottir, not to mention Sackville, Semple, Setterfield, and Silva.

So many choices! It was hard to pick just one, but I finally settled on an author I've never read before.

Author: Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
Title: Three Women in a Mirror

This lyrical novel tells the story of three free-spirited women from three different centuries, each separated by hundreds of years, but all seeking the same thing: to be herself. Here are the women:

Anne, 16th century Flanders

     "No one will understand me."
     "Why not?"
     "Because I'm different."
     What did she mean by the word? She could not say exactly; by 'different' she was referring to the abyss she saw between her own joys and those of other people, the solitude she felt when people talked about what fascinated them, her reticence to share her thoughts, which no one ever understood. The currency of languages and ideas that was common among men was not something Anne knew how to use:  the words never had the same meaning for her and for those with whom she spoke.

Hanna, 1900s Vienna

I do not know how to be the woman our era expects me to be. ... I put on my uniform like a good girl, rehearse my role, go back over my lines, double-check my entrances and exits, and prepare for the comedy of my existence. Perhaps I am yearning for a miracle ... what miracle? To stop watching myself act. To be no longer the actress or the spectator of my own life.

Anny, present-day Hollywood

"The real Anny is hiding. ... I act cheerful, yes, but I'm not happy. Other people may think I'm fun to be around, that I'm a partygoer with no hang-ups, but all this running around is hiding my real self. It's makeup."

My thoughts:  I liked this novel. It's poignant and unflinching and beautifully told. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt deftly weaves together the lives of these three unique women and their journeys to self-discovery. And I like how their stories all intersect at the end. This was definitely a serendipitous find from the S shelf.

Happy Reading!

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