[REVIEW] Enigma Variations by André Aciman @FaberBooks @aaciman

Aciman’s short story collection Enigma Variations title comes from Edward Elgar’s piece called Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma), Op. 36 (1898), better known as Enigma Variations. I wasn’t aware of this connection until I finished the book and googled the title. I’ve spent about 40 minutes listening to Elgar’s piece and I just love it! It’s so beautiful!

I honestly don’t wish to butcher the synopsis of this short story collection so I’ll post the synopsis I found on Goodreads: “From a youthful infatuation with a cabinet maker in a small Italian fishing village, to a passionate yet sporadic affair with a woman in New York, to an obsession with a man he meets at a tennis court, Enigma Variations charts one man’s path through the great loves of his life. Paul’s intense desires, losses and longings draw him closer, not to a defined orientation, but to an understanding that ‘heartache, like love, like low-grade fevers, like the longing to reach out and touch a hand across the table, is easy enough to live down’.” I feel like this synopsis sums up the book wonderfully and if I tried to do it I’d ruin its magic.

Enigma Variations consists of five short stories dealing with love, loss, infatuation and more. Aciman has the ability to masterfully showcase human emotion through words. In reading Call Me by Your Name  I’ve noticed that Aciman’s so skilled in entering the human psyche and making the reader infatuated with words they’re reading. Although his stories are often sad Aciman writes with such precision that it feels as if he’s softening the ‘blow’. I have to say that the first two stories were my favourite because I loved Aciman’s writing in them the most and the way he described the village as well as the tennis court were perfection to me! By reading this review you’ve probably guessed that I adore Aciman’s writing style and the way he has with words so I’ll bore you no more with that. If I dive deeper into the analysis of each story I feel like I’ll ruin it for future readers so I won’t be sharing anything further but I have to say that Enigma Variations was a phenomenal read where although each story has about 50 (or more) pages it contains everything that satisfies the reader – from wonderful writing to a brilliantly crafted main character.

Fans of Aciman will definitely enjoy reading this short story collection and even if you’re not familiar with Aciman, you’ll fall in love with his writing in Enigma Variations.

Many thanks to the publisher Faber&Faber for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got the book from the publisher.

My rating: 

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André Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt and is an American memoirist, essayist, novelist, and scholar of seventeenth-century literature. He has also written many essays and reviews on Marcel Proust. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Condé Nast Traveler as well as in many volumes of The Best American Essays. Aciman received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, has taught at Princeton and Bard and is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at The CUNY Graduate Center. He is currently chair of the Ph. D. Program in Comparative Literature and founder and director of The Writers’ Institute at the Graduate Center.

Find him on:  Twitter and Goodreads

[BOOK REVIEW] The Rapture by Claire McGlasson #TheRapture @FaberBooks

Having read both Clare and Amanda’s amazing reviews of The Rapture by Claire McGlasson I knew that this book would be for me! Luckily, I got my copy from the wonderful publisher Faber&Faber and I have to say that I loved reading it!

The Rapture is a book revolving around The Panacea Society, an English cult which existed back in the 1920s, and one particular person called Dilys who’s a member of the cult. The cult was founded by Mabel Barltrop, better known as Octavia, who was self-proclaimed as the Daughter of God. The cult consists of mostly single ladies and Dilys is the youngest member in her mid twenties. One day she meets a woman named Grace and invites her to visit The Panacea Society and find out more about it. Grace soon becomes a new recruit and begins living in the Society as help. The friendship between Dilys and Grace becomes stronger and closer as time passes and while that is going on the Society begins to change. Each person has something to hide. Dilys, once a full-blown believer, now becomes suspicious as to how the Society actually works.

I read The Rapture in two sittings – it was captivating, interesting and compelling. The story being based on truth is quite interesting as well! I loved the atmosphere in the novel, the whole unease surrounding the cult. Dilys as a character was very interesting and I found her to be well-written because her psyche matched her actions. I also liked how the author included some queer aspects into the novel making it much more interesting to me! I really loved the descriptions of Dilys’ feelings for Grace. The Rapture being a book that surrounds around a cult felt very eeire and I was at times scared for Dilys and was anticipating her next actions. The story in itself included many revelations that I liked and gasped at some of them because I was not expecting that. The author addressing Octavia as Her in the book sent shivers down my spine because you could sense that Octavia is someone who’s in charge. The ending of the book left me feeling satisfied which I appreciated although I wouldn’t have predicted it’d end like that because in my mind I had something darker as the ending. There is no particular reason why I’m giving this book four out of five stars but it didn’t feel like a five star read although it was a great and compelling one.

The Rapture is a spine-chilling and fascinating book about a woman living a cult who slowly begins to find out that not everything is what it seems.

I would like to thank the publisher Faber&Faber for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book from the publisher.

My rating:

Add ‘The Rapture‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘The Rapture‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Claire McGlasson is a journalist who works for ITV News Anglia and enjoys the variety of life on the road with a TV camera. Her role gives her access to high-profile interviewees, and takes her behind-the-scenes at places that she’d never ordinarily get to go. But the biggest privilege of her job is spending time with people at the very best, and very worst, times of their lives and helping them to tell their stories. She lives in Cambridgeshire with her favourite people – her husband, daughter and son.

Her first novel, THE RAPTURE, which is based on true events in an Edwardian women’s cult, was published by Faber in Spring 2019. McGlasson’s debut novel about a real-life cult, set in 1920s England, is being turned into a television series after Hillbilly Television optioned the rights.

Find her on: Goodreads and Twitter.