The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Review by Floresiensis
Review by Indra
Strangely told by a nameless narrator, The Gargoyle is a tale of love, pain, transformation and more. The narrator, is involved in a serious car accident causing horrendous burns to his body, forcing him into hospital for many months to under go numerous painful surgeries and rehabilitation. During the stay in hospital he is visited by a beautiful, mysterious woman in her thirties who, unlike his so-called friends, doesn't flee at the sight of his disfigured, charred body. She tells him that she knows him, is sorry he has been burned like this again and that she has been waiting for him for hundreds of years.
Over the stay in hospital, many new friendships start to blossom between the narrator and several members of the hospital staff assisting his recovery, and in particular with the mysterious Marianne Engel, a most beautifully talented sculptor of stone, who tells him more detail about how they were once lovers many hundreds of years ago in Germany, when she was a nun in a famous monastery, translating texts in her spare time, thanks to her god given talent with languages.
But is she telling the truth, or is she merely a tortured sufferer of schizophrenia believing her own fantasies?
The story is one of metamorphosis and there is certainly an underlying theme of love to the book, however this couldn't really be called a love story, but it is certainly a story of human emotions, life and learning. The biographic nature of the story creates a perfect flow which isn't disturbed by the change in narrator when reading the sections about the life and times of Marianne Engel, or the anecdotes about the lives of other people, told through Marianne. Even the most fanciful of the stories and scenes are brought effortlessly to life with Davidson's words.
The description of the events in the hospital are not for the squeamish, with detailing of the actual injuries and therapies bringing it all to life in glorious technicolor. In fact, it is clear that the book has been thoroughly researched all the way through, with no details seeming sketchy or glossed over, instead leaving the reader feeling as though the author has actually stood in the countries being explained, spoken in the languages on the page and seen the sights described.
The characters in the book are very believable, reflecting not only people that the reader will know in their lives, but also aspects of their own personality, good or bad. It is extraordinarily easy, therefore, to emphasise with the characters, and one can't help but be drawn into their lives, rooting for them when the chips are down, feeling happy for them when things are going their way and even wondering what they are going to do or say when you next sit down to continue reading.
The first novel by Davidson, this book is simply captivating, it leaves it's images with you when you have put the book down and walked away, like photographic ghosts. The Gargoyle's one drawn back has to be that it is very difficult to review without giving away the storyline!
Lindsay from Marquette
This is one of my favorite books of all time. As soon as I finished reading it, I wanted to pick it right back up and start again. I really hope this author comes out with more books. The story was one like I've never read before and I hope to read even more books from him.
Linda from Birmingham
I loved this book. Davidson wrote it with astonishing integrity, gently taking his reader through a fascinating and bizarre story. Although the ending was totally satisfying it was not entirely conclusive and I would never have thought that to be possible but Davidson pulled it off with an aplomb that is praiseworthy.
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