Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss

Title: The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story
Author: Theodora Goss

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Academics / Romance / Medieval Literature)
Publisher/Publication Date: Quirk Books (1/17/2012)
Source: The publisher

Rating: Loved -- I was immediately taken with the book and the story within!
Did I finish?: Yes, in a snap!
One-sentence summary: The story of two lovers, told from the view point of each lover.

Do I like the cover?: Love it -- both the box cover and the covers for each story.

I'm reminded of...: Nick Bantock, Holly Phillips, Catherynne M. Valente

First line: Brendan saw her before she saw him, a girl about his own age, wearing a gray cardigan, faded jeans, and sneakers. from 'Brendan's Story'

Do... I love everything about the physical design of this book?: YES. This is the kind of book you'd see in a totally awesome dreamy historical or fantasy movie, where everyone wears the clothes I wish I could wear, and finds awesome artifacts I wish existed in my life. It's nice to have my dreams come true now and then!

Did... I find myself singing 'The Holly and the Ivy' in my head every time I thought of the title?: YES. I can't help it: it's one of my favorite winter holiday carols. In my defense (?), I kept changing the words, awkwardly, to 'the thorn and the blossom', etc.

Do... I think everyone should enter the giveaway at Theodora Goss' website?: YES. The prize is awesome: a signed copy of The Thorn and the Blossom and In the Forest of Forgetting.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy or borrow (I'm not sure how a copy would fare at the library -- it has to be held carefully), so maybe splurge for the tactile, medieval romantic-lovin', book artifact yearner in your life (or, you know, yourself).

Why did I get this book?: In 2006 I read Goss' In the Forest of Forgetting and loved it; I even wrote her a fangirl letter (my first to an author, I think!). Since then, she's been on my radar as an author I'll read no matter what.

Review: I can't review this book without first commenting on the physical design. Accordion-style, printed on both sides, the book doesn't have a spine.  That forces you to hold the book carefully, almost cradling it, which (for me) enhanced the sort of magical-artifact-found-in-my-grandmother's-attic artifact nature that I ate up.  I suppose others will find it gimmick-y, but I was immediately charmed.

The book tells the same story from two different viewpoints, that of Evelyn, an American medievalist who spends a week in Cornwall before returning to the States to pursue, she hopes, her academic career; and Brendan, a British medievalist who meets Evelyn during her week in Cornwall. 

This is a romance with academics, sort of A.S. Byatt-lite (in a good way!): Oxford scholars turned medieval professors, a kiss, a misunderstanding, some magic...Their brief romance echoes that of a local myth -- a variation on Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight -- and has a mix of realism and mythic grandness that I found compelling. Goss' writing style is simple, but pretty, and she slightly alters her narrative style to fit the voice of Evelyn and Brendan. I read Evelyn's story first, and let out a serious sigh upon finishing, then quickly flipped the book to gobble up Brendan's story. (Who, by the way, needs to be my boyfriend. Hello, Mr. Dreamy.)

In conclusion: read Theodora Goss no matter what; and if you can get your hands on this book, do it, because it's very neat.

16 comments:

  1. Yours is the second positive review I've read for this book. It's sounds lovely that I'm definitely going to have to check it out for myself.

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  2. I am seeing this book everywhere and I am intrigued. Well it goes up and down

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  3. I've also seen other positive reviews and am intrigued. Need to check it out. Thanks!

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  4. Sounds amazing - thanks for such a detailed description of the packaging. Looking forward to this book more than most!

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  5. What a gorgeous book. I'm definitely intrigued!

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  6. This looks like such a neat book, and I am more than a little intrigued by the design and the way the story is told. This is one that is going on my list, and I am so glad that you loved it! I think I will too.

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  7. @All -- definitely, definitely get your hands on this book -- gorgeous and delightful!

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  8. I really....really really like the cover of this.

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  9. I read about this over at Things Mean A Lot and it immediately piqued my interest. It's such a wonderful premise, and I love the ingenious way Goss decided to present her story. After all, aren't all love stories two-sided? I really hope I can get my hands on a copy of this one!

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  10. This one sounds absolutely fantastic. I'll have to try to track down a copy!

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  11. I loved In the Forest of Forgetting! Goss has such unusual and haunting stories.

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  12. I keep seeing reviews of this, and it sounds amazing! And you are correct ..... I don't think it would hold up well in a public library. I had already thought about ordering it for mine, and realized that it would probably get damaged pretty quickly.

    So, might just treat myself to a personal copy, instead. :)

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  13. Oh wow how interesting!! I haven't heard of this but I'm totally intrigued by the accordion thing!

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  14. The design and story of this book sounds great, and I'm trying to picture the accordion thing as well.

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  15. I'm really curious about this one. Sounds like it's packaged beautifully and would make a great gift. Glad you loved it!

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  16. Ive seen up and down reviews on this one but I really want to get my hands on a copy. Lol. Even if only for that gorgeous cover. Glad you loved it!

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