Friday, November 25, 2016

A Man of Genius - Lynn Rosen

Summary: Samuel Grafton-Hall is a man of genius who demands reverence from all. A renowned architect, his point of view is not universally shared by students, critics, and colleagues - but this is of little consequence to Grafton-Hall, for he revels in his misanthropy.

Immune to the barbs of the masses, Grafton-Hall also suffers no qualms about his personal peccadilloes and perversions. An unrepentant womanizer, Grafton-Hall leaves colleagues, friends, and lovers deeply scarred from having known him.

And then there is the murder. The question of guilt is of less consequence than the question of whether the gift of genius makes one irreproachable.

A rich novel that will sweep you into a life of glittering achievement and the core of hubris, A Man of Genius will forever alter your ideas about success and pride. Written in the haunting style of du Maurier's Rebecca, this is a compelling story, told with intelligence and classic style. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: Well this was a fun little story. It’s quite unassuming, actually. The cover is fun, graced with the painting Fame by James Carroll Beckwith, 1878. It’s already deliciously creepy because of that. The book itself isn’t that long, actually, but it’s very satisfying and the mystery was great.

This book is written by an older woman with a lot of education and literary experience and it shows. The writing is complex and deep, but not inaccessible. It’s not written like bubble gum mystery fiction, though, and this isn’t one of those books that will be placed among the shelves of potboiler fiction at the airport. Don’t get me wrong—this is a very worthwhile read—but it is compared to Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca and Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and I think this is a very fair comparison. It’s got that beautiful, gothic-style writing that is shivery and hidden. There are a lot of secrets but not all is revealed. Still, even after having read it, I have unanswered questions. This isn’t because of the author’s inability to address them, or even lack of clarity in the book, but more like that lovely hidden mystery of it all.

The story itself is fun and complex. It unwinds and shows hidden complexities in the main character as well as the interim and surrounding characters. The characters have depth and are complex, adding to the story and the intrigue surrounding it. There are a couple of different stories going on, but they are all interrelated and make a very nice and cohesive picture of the whole situation—it’s creepiness, its mystery, and the people whose lives have been affected by the unconventional and often unpredictable actions of this one man.

I think this is a great story for a Halloween season read. As I mentioned previously (and is mentioned in the book’s reviews), this has a very Rebecca-esque feel to it. It’s a ghost story without being one, a gothic novel of intrigue and mystery complete with house-as-a-character and people past and present who all come together to make a masterfully concocted story. Rosen is obviously a very competent and talented writer who created a beautiful and complex story that was thoroughly enjoyable.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is a small incident of violence and a love scene, but I would say this book is on the cleaner side of the genre.

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