Iain showed up on a rainy Paris evening in front of the Maison Pearl. After the Pearl family brought him in, they raised him as their own and he took on the name Joshua Pearl. Even after serving in the military during World War II and taking on the family business, he can't shake the pull to the world he came from. A world of kingdoms, fairies, genies and curses. He also can't shake the dark shadow following him everywhere he goes.
I was really drawn to this book by the cover. It's so simple but also intriguing. It reminds me of a beautiful fairy tale book cover that you see opening at the start of every Disney movie. I was also interested by the story of the boy from the fairy tale world thrown into the pre-WW2 France. This book turned out much different than I expected but was still a beautiful and fun read.
You must be a patient reader to finish this novel, but it's worth the work. This book has been translated from french, so the pattern of the sentences a little bit hard to adjust to. I found about a quarter of the way through the novel I didn't struggle anymore and really enjoy the beauty of the language. Additionally, the story is broken up into three story lines: that of the narrator, of Iain and of Joshua Pearl. At first the three story lines seem completely unrelated, but trust in the author and you'll enjoy the mystery of the plot.
There are only three main character in this novel and the author does a great job of creating a full and diverse supporting cast. While the narrator isn't incredibly descriptive, he does a great job of really showing the character's personality through their actions. There's little to no exposition, which is pretty impressive for a fairly tale inspired novel. Even characters as small as Joshua/Iain's fellow soldiers are painted so emotionally that it's painful to say goodbye to them later on in the story.
The main characters: the unnamed narrator, Olia and Iian, on the other hand, are shrouded in a bit of mystery compared to the side characters. In fact, there's a lot of mystery in this story. It's mysterious who the narrator actually is. It's mysterious how the individual plots are related. It's mysterious how the conflict is eventually resolved. The prose in this story is absolutely beautiful, mostly descriptive and metaphorical but also somewhat vague. The author could have done with some more concrete description and a confirmed conclusion, whether satisfying or not.
The Book of Pearl by Timothee de Fombelle is a translated French fairy tale revision. It features a large and exciting cast that the readers truly connect to. The prose in the story is beautifully written, although sometimes confusing. While the translation is not bad, any translated novel is going to take some adjustment. However, if you have the patience to take you time and read The Book of Pearl with intention and focus, you'll be grateful for sticking through to the eventual product.
The Book of Pearl will be available February 6th. Are you planning to pre-order The Book of Pearl? What's your favorite fairy tale revision?