|(Having wifi in the house again + a cold = 'command central' for today!)|
In today's Off The Shelf, I'm sharing with you an incredible debut novel, The Silence Of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski.
My journey with Bonaventure began here in February and though I finished reading the novel last night, I believe the magic of Bonaventure is far from over!
(**Spoilers Possible -->***)
"Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn’t make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. No one knows Bonaventure's silence is filled with resonance - a miraculous gift of rarified hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound. Growing up in the big house oh Christopher Street in Bayou Cymbaline, Bonaventure can hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops. He can also hear the gentle voice of his father, William Arrow, shot dead before Bonaventure was born by a mysterious stranger known only as the Wanderer.
Bonaventure's remarkable gift of listening promises salvation to the souls who love him: his beautiful young mother, Dancy, haunted by the death of her husband; his Grand-mere Letice, plagued by grief and long-buried guilt she locks away in a chapel; and his father, William, whose roaming spirit must fix the wreckage of the past. With the help of Trinidad Prefontaine, a Creole housekeeper endowed with her own special gifts, Bonaventure will find the key to long-buried mysteries and soothe a chorus of family secrets clamoring to be healed."
Despite Kimberly Brock telling me she knew I'd love it, I was very nervous about reading this novel! Even more so after author Rita, a kind & wonderful woman, and I began emailing back & forth. I mean, what if I *didn't* like it?! I don't normally enjoy novels that may be part mystery and have a child as one of the main characters.
But, I worried for naught and Kimberly was right.
The moment I pulled Bonaventure from the envelope Rita had sent it in, I knew something wonderful was about to happen. (And before I even opened the novel to start reading, I had an 'ah-ha' moment about my own writing while looking at the gorgeous book cover! More on that another time).
Rita's beautiful writing enchanted me right from the start and drew me into the ethereal, sometimes other-worldly life of Bonaventure Arrow, where the characters of the present are as haunted as those who've passed on. I could see these characters, feel them, hear them, in my minds eye. Bonaventure's hearing was such an experience for me! (I wish I could put that more eloquently, but I'm still unsure how). I don't think I've ever read a story about something like Bonaventure's hearing and I loved the journey it took me on as the characters around him journeyed for peace. I found myself hoping along the way that Dancy, William, Bonaventure, Lettice and Trinidad would regain at least some of the things they'd lost by novels end. I couldn't stand the thought of their forever living with the the loss of self, the loss of trust in the world and others, the loss of love, the loss of joy, the loss of innocence. I adored Trinidad, was relieved Adelaide got her comeuppance with no harm to others and was taken completely by surprise by part of the ending.
Here are just a few of my favorite passages:
"She was rocking him to sleep in the chair by the window when the suggestion of blame smoked in through the key-hole, for even a shut door won't keep blame away."
"She had no idea he could hear a bluesy trumpet in a French Quarter alley, or the shuffling of tarot cards in a Bogalusa sanctum, or the echoes of footsteps made by the Acolapissa more than three hundred years before, or the fog rolling over Saint Anthony's Garden some fourteen miles away."
"Bonaventure Arrow could hear conjured charms and sanctified spirits deep in the marrow of New Orleans. He could hear the movements of voodoo queens and the prayers of long dead saints. He could hear the past and the present."
Reading this novel was an experience for me and I don't often say that about books I've read. With her writing, Rita has captured what I love most about reading, whether a novel is set in the South or elsewhere: Descriptive writing that brings the setting and characters to life.
Tomorrow, from 2p-3p EST, there will be a twitter chat with Rita and SheReads! Be sure to follow the hashtag #SRchat as well as @SheReadsBookClb, @ritaleganski and @rockstar1023 on Twitter for the chat. (I'll be there too! @BloominChick).
There's still time to join in and discuss Bonaventure with us! Join me with Southern Lit Lovers on Goodreads here and for information on the SheReads discussion next week, click here.
Have you read Bonaventure? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!