"I thought of all the holy people throughout history, all the mystics and martyrs, artists and visionaries, and what the world would have been like if they'd all been given medication to make them ordinary. There would have been less suffering, no doubt about it, but I couldn't imagine a world without saints and madmen. Someone had to walk the outer edges. Someone had to stir things up."
I have always been fascinated by divinity and madness. My interests had often been "other". Now it looks to me I've found yet another book that seems to be after my own heart.
A coming-of-age novel, The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn
tells the story of 14-year old Francesca, whom people somehow believe to be the Virgin Mother in the flesh, told from 4 of the main characters' perspectives. Multiple POV stories are close to my heart, because I am always interested in characters' dynamics, and simply because I like to get inside every character. What's interesting in this book is that 3 POVs are written in the first person narrative, while Francesca, the central part of the story, is written in the third person present tense. It seems to work in favor of the writer, because I cannot imagine this unusual story being told by Francesca herself.
This book was beautifully
written. The characters were flawed, yet resilient. There's a homeless man who can smell the essence of each person he meets. Definitely inspired by [b:Perfume: The Story of a Murderer|343|Perfume The Story of a Murderer|Patrick Süskind|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328815062s/343.jpg|2977727], and the passages about people's smells, ranging from sweet roses to newly sharpened pencils, were fascinating. In fact, the four characters' insights were intelligent and ringed of truth. They were wise, even in innocence.
What really drew me to it was the book's search for the divine, of a part of God in all of us. Sometimes, we need to go a little mad, to lose ourselves, before we find ourselves. I really like spiritual books that delve into this stuff, without getting preachy. It made me reevaluate my own beliefs, and helped me to feel once again the same feeling of calm happiness when I was first conscious of how miraculous ordinary life was.
I cannot fully articulate how good this book was, in its simplicity. All I know is, it struck a chord in me.
I read that it took the author six years to write this novel. I think it really payed off.*4.5 stars*
, a mesmerizing debut novel that tickled my fancy, especially since it tackled issues of spirituality/divinity, madness, and the mundane.