Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Our house is a very, very, very fine house: "Piranesi" by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi, a young man, and maybe one of only two people in the world, is our narrator and guide into one of the most unusual habitats ever created. His home is a house so big it contains an ocean, with its tides that come and go and affect the way he lives. This impossible house is filled with hundreds of rooms and in each of these rooms are tier upon tier of marble and stone statues.

These statues depict everything from a huge gorilla to a woman carrying a beehive, to a man removing a thorn from a child's foot to a room of Minotaurs. They are so lovingly described and in such detail you can picture each and every one as Piranesi makes his rounds, writes in his journals, cares for several skeletons and fishes in a sunken lake. It seems to Piranesi that he has always been here. There may have been a before the House but it is a vague memory that seems to be just out of reach. It doesn't trouble him as the House provides him with all that he needs.

On Tuesdays and Fridays, Piranesi meets with "the Other", his friend and mentor of sorts. The Other is an older gentleman with a trim beard and always well dressed and looking very dapper despite the chill and damp and the constant presence of the ocean.Sometimes he is so deep in thought, he becomes annoyed with Piranesi, other times he encourages his feedback.

The Other doesn't seem to love the House and its contents as Piranesi does. And where does he go the other days of the week? Piranesi is content living among the statues and the birds who often nest amidst these giant beings. Is there more to this world of sea and stone? Where do the birds come from or go to?  I will say no more! You will have to uncover these mysteries of the House for yourself!

This is a beautifully written book by the brilliant and imaginative Susanna Clarke who gave us the masterpiece Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. She has a unique ability to create a world you totally believe in and while completely different than Jonathan Strange it is no less magical!  Highly recommended! Thank you to Edelweiss for allowing me the pleasure of reading an advance DRC!!!

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