Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: March 2014
Source: Review Copy
Synopsis from Goodreads
Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.
First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.
REVIEW BY BETH
Before anything else it’s important to wallow in the beauty of Walton’s cover. The cover of this novel is so delicately beautiful I’m so happy to have a copy on my shelves and it’s worth it just to look at. The novel itself went off in some directions I wasn’t quite up to speed with but this didn’t detract from overall enjoyment.
This novel is strange, the title has got that much right and plenty of it is very beautiful (cover included). The story is entirely unique and Walton’s style draws you in in a simple, subtle way with no trickery or pacy action to keep you on your toes. There is a dream-like atmosphere throughout created by Walton’s prose and her quirky characters.
There is a magical element to this novel which always makes me feel a bit uneasy as I’m not a massive fan of anything fantastical or too out there but Walton’s novel needed this element to make it as good as it was. I have read many reviews saying this book was impossible to put down and whilst I didn’t feel this, I did look forward to going back to it and getting drawn gently back into Ava’s world and the world of those around her.
The characters, as mentioned, are as quirky as they come. Walton produces a cast of perfectly characterised people who genuinely jump out of the pages and their voices are almost audible. Her bad guys are just as effective and I really enjoyed how well each and every character was crafted.
I think the magical realism in this novel worked for me because it is a completely illogical inclusion. People turn into birds, ghosts appear and despite these facts, the plot seems like something that could genuinely have happened.
Walton’s novel covers some pretty massive themes amongst its whimsical tale. The power of love seems to undercut all the other issues and there is a real moralistic sense that the strength of a person is far more powerful than that of love. It’s whimsical, it’s magical and it’s the kind of thing I shouldn’t really like, but I did. Bittersweet and extremely memorable.