Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Sorrows of Ava Lavender

‘Love makes us such fools.’

On the surface The Strange and Beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavendar by Leslye Walton is about Ava, a sixteen year old girl born with wings, who yearns to fit in with everyone else. But this novel also traces her family history, a history of love gone wrong, of myths and fables.

It begins with her grandmother, Emilienne, who fell in love three times before she was nineteen. After the deaths of her siblings, all due to love, or the lack thereof, she married a man she thought would never leave her. Love didn’t enter into the equation.

Ava’s mother Vivianne is just as much troubled by love as the rest of her family. Falls in love with a boy who, after a one night stand, leaves her. From this one night, Vivianne has two children, winged Ava and silent Henry….but all the time waits for her errant lover to return.

This novel is an interesting mixture of fable and magic realism. Nothing and no one are really how they appear. Vivianne has an unnatural sense of smell and can detect the seasons.

"Summer rain smelled like newly clipped grass, like mouths stained red with berry juice – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. It smelled like late nights spent pointing constellations out from their starry guises, freshly washed laundry drying outside on the line, like barbecues and stolen kisses in a 1932 Ford Coupe."

One of Emilienne’s siblings cuts out her own heart, another quietly turns into a bird. Ghosts freely roam this book as though it is the norm. Now it is Ava’s turn to try and find her place. She longs to leave the safety of her home, all that she has ever known. With the help of a friend she sneaks out but now becomes the obsession of a man who believes her to be no mortal woman but an angel.

This novel is like a grown up fairy tale.  If you accept that fact and allow yourself to be swept along with some beautiful writing, you’ll definitely enjoy this book.

Vicki @ Pakenham

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