Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Candles on the Sand by Katie Stephens

I don't know why, but the cover
looks extremely pixelated, here
and in real life.
Candles on the Sand by Katie Stephens has a really interesting premise: Anna, discovering that her fiancee is cheating on her, impulsively walks out on their wedding and head to Italy, and predictably, finds happiness and belonging by the end of the novel.

I liked the plot of the novel, but for some reason, the conversations felt very stilted to me. I'm not sure if it was the pacing of the conversations, but it seems like, well, something that I write. The conversations can turn into two-sided rants and made me generally uncomfortable with the novel. Because this impression was made very early in the novel I(before the Italian English appears), I fully suspend my disbelief and remained distant to the characters.

Now, it's not that I cannot take long (paragraph-long), monologues when two people speak and have that called a conversation. I have read Huck Finn and Siddhartha too many times to count and they have very very long conversations monologues (have you heard Siddhartha expound his theories to Govinda/Kamala/etc? Or listened to the Duke and the King? Actually, the whole of Huck Finn can be said to be a monologue, since it's a recount. But the thing is that it's a conversational and believable recount). Yet, it doesn't feel as stilted as Candles on the Sand does.

The ending of the novel also felt a little rushed, especially the reconciliation section. Plus, there seemed to be no resolution with regards to her fiancee, especially since she seemed to just ignore the problem.

But all this being said, the novel was very effective in evoking Italy, and now, I really feel like going there. I'm not much of a Europe kind of traveller (mostly because I have no funds, but partly because I'm still trying to visit the different places in Asia (Taiwan, Japan and Korea mostly).

Bottom line: this is a pretty good first-novel. Not excellent but more than satisfactory, especially in terms of plot. But it could have done with much better editing (I saw some grammar and maybe spelling mistakes), as well as a not insubstantial dialogue re-write to make it much more believable.

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