Parallel stories aren’t always equally compelling. (And don’t get me started on Game of Thrones.) But the women narrators in this novel are; Elsa who is young in 1913 and Greer, who is young in the mid-1970s. (No relation to each other, except perhaps in the scientific and artistic spirit.) I sighed each time the story left one to flip through time to the other, but within sentences I was enthralled again.
This author is just that good.
Get caught up in the all-consuming quest for the first angiosperm (flowering tree); the mystery of the Rapa Nui statues and their destruction, the storyboards with no Rosetta Stone. The mysterious destruction of an orphaned German fleet after the outbreak of WWI. The politics of the Chilean government toward the indigenous people of Easter Island.
There are betrayals–plenty. There is a simpleminded sister (what would you diagnose her with today that she wouldn’t have been medicated for in 1913?) There is an uneasy romance and an equally uneasy marriage of convenience.
People, living their lives as vicariously as they can, despite everything fate does to hurl its daggers at them.
In another book I read for this blog, a character who is supposed to be Austrian refers to her childhood Christmas tree as a “Weihnachtsbaum”. This made me choke on my coffee. Well yes, Weihnacht is the literal translation of Chirstmas, but a Christmas tree is always a “Tannenbaum,” as far as I know. Epic Babblefish fail. I thought for a paragraph or two this author had made the same sort of not-a-native-German-speaker-nor-do-I-know-any mistake…but she was actually revealing a particularly poignant plot twist which blew my mind. Do watch for that if you speak German. It’s just fun.
Five colossal moai statues!