Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Andrew Davidson, a new Canadian author, has debuted with a powerful and absorbing book. A story of love that transcends time and boundaries over 700 years, the book is filled with history, none of it dry. Medical practices from medieval to current times, beliefs of the centuries, everyday life experiences, and brought it all into an almost magical present. The characters are unique but built gradually so the reader can gather the fullness of them. It is written with the voice of one of the two main characters, a rather unsavory film maker and actor at the outset with only his own ambition and looks in his mind. A man detached from normal life, love, and destiny. One thing he does do though, is read deeply and thoroughly.

On drugs and drunk, he has a horrendous car accident which is about to change his life completely. He awakens in a hospital where he finds he is so badly burned that it is a wonder he could wake up at all. His “friends” come and go as quickly as possible. As time passes, a young woman comes in to visit him and one of the first things he notices is that she shows no look of horror at what she sees of his injuries. Instead, she makes the comment (in this version) “You’ve been burned. Again.” Rather than the sadness and disgust one might expect to feel during the burn treatments, they are relatively easy to read, well researched, and necessary to the plot. Marianne is a patient in the hospital and it is believed she has psychological disorders... or does she? Attempts to bar her from visiting him in the burn unit are to no avail. He shortly afterward requests every psychology book he can get, particularly relating to schizophrenia, from the psychiatrist who befriends him.

Throughout “The Gargoyle”, Marianne visits him, later arranging for him to share her home and accept her for his care and recovery. She relates several stories of her life over the previous seven centuries and about how she came to meet him again and again. There is so much to be learned on many levels from this book and I found it engrossing. Oh yes, there are gargoyles, or more correctly grotesques, but not in the way you might expect. I do not want to put any spoilers in this review, so let it be said that whether fanciful or real, the ending will leave you with questions both answered and unanswered. I have never read a book quite like this but the one thing that is consistent is pure selfless love. Suspend your belief for a while and enjoy this surprising and fascinating debut! My congratulations to Andrew Davidson, this is one extraordinary book.