On My Bookshelf: Piranesi

Well, that was a fabulous read: Piranesi. Piranesi (Susanna Clarke).png

One review cited the Stockholm Syndrome when discussing this book. I didn’t get that misreading of this novel.

The reader joins a childlike first person narrator in a fantastical world that consists of one enormous building of halls, vestibules, and statues. An ocean is mostly confined to the lowest of three floors, but tides occasionally flow up staircases and create dangerous floods. Seafood, seaweed, and multivitamins are the diet described by the narrator. And that last bit tells you right off something modern has seeped into this tale of wonder and worry.

The reader wonders about hints of an outside world that is our own. There’s also a curiosity about what is the truth and what are lies. There is a malicious enemy afoot, but who is it? And what are they after? Sound like a recent American president? I’m assuming the copy for this work was submitted before the pandemic but there’s a resonance with isolation here also.

One small spoiler of religious note: As the plot hurries to a climax, an “angel” of sorts arrives in the form of a police detective by the name of Sarah Raphael. An interesting name that suggests the book of Tobit. As you can see from the book cover that depicts a faun, there are CS Lewis references throughout the narrative. I am sure a devotee of British literature might find more stuff; I just enjoyed the words flowing off the page, through my eyes and into my imagination.

I used a new app for reading this novel. It tracked that I had the book open for four hours and ten minutes, so it’s not an unwieldly read. Honestly, I could find nothing about which to complain. After I finished it, I read reviews, as I often do. A journalist somewhere called it a nearly perfect novel. I’d have no grounds on which to disagree.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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