The Gargoyle – Andrew Davidson

“Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.”

Quite a catchy opening line, isn’t it?
This is how The Gargoyle starts, and it was enough to keep me reading.
The story begins with a car accident – the survivor, a man, is brought to a hospital, his body covered in severe burns. While going through endless medical procedures which only make him wish for a quick death, he receives a visitor, a strange woman who claims they were lovers a long time ago. Several hundred years, in fact.
Her name is Marianne Engel (not quite angel but almost – I like that) and just like a modern Scheherazade, she starts telling him their love story. Her tale is interspersed with other beautiful love stories, like the Japanese girl who made amazing delicate works of art out of glass and every time one chipped a piece away, the word aishiteru (‘I love you’ – in Japanese) would be released into the air, or the woman whose husband was lost at sea and she always waited for him to come back.

Slowly, his thoughts of suicide fade away and the burned man finds himself looking forward to Marianne Engel’s visits and the stories she brings him. Each day becomes less painful than the last, and while his body is slowly recovering, the burned man remembers his past and cannot help compare his former life to the one he’s forced to accept after his accident.

What about Marianne Engel and her story? What hides beneath that intriguing exterior, who’s underneath those tattoos?

“Her hair was like Tartarean vines that grow in the night, reaching up from a place so dark that the sun is only a rumor.

Ocean waves tossed around her irises, like an unexpected storm ready to steal a sailor from his wife.”

How come she knows so many things, old things, terrible things, and why is she speaking about the hearts she has to give away? And why does she go into a frenzy sculpting those stone monsters, the gargoyles?

The stories within stories kept my attention fully engaged – I only wish I had read Dante’s Inferno before so I would understand that specific part in the book better, but that’s to be done in the future. The sentences are beautifully constructed, the references to other cultures intriguing, the description of the burned man’s wounds and treatment believable (they are probably accurate but to be honest I have no idea – nevertheless I was impressed with the amount of details about this aspect).
This was one of the best love stories I’ve read, a love that asks for everything and burns the soul like fire, a love that requires the greatest sacrifice: that of letting go. It made my heart sing and weep at the same time.
This book is a keeper. I will definitely read it again.

*read in August 2011

This entry was posted in The Book on The Nightstand. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Gargoyle – Andrew Davidson

  1. Vishy says:

    Wonderful review, Delia! ‘The Gargoyle’ looks like an interesting book. I have seen it in bookstores here but I thought that it was a fantasy kind of book. From your review, it looks very different. I will add this to my ‘TBR’ list. Thanks for the review 🙂

    • Delia says:

      Hi Vishy,
      This book surpasses the interesting and goes into the realm of beautiful. Love stories like this are found only in writing. 🙂
      I often have trouble writing a good review for a book I really like because I don’t want to give away too much but at the same time just saying ‘go ahead and read it’ it’s not enough.
      Fantasy? No, I wouldn’t say so…

      • Vishy says:

        Wonderful to know that, Delia! I loved your reviews about the books you liked very much – both this and the one on ‘Shantaram’. I am planning to go to my favourite bookstore on Sunday. I will look for ‘The Gargoyle’ then 🙂

  2. Aths says:

    I have been curious about this book for a while. A lot of people have solidly recommended this book and I’m glad to see that you enjoyed it!

    • Delia says:

      Hi Aths,

      You should give it a try. I’m a bit skeptical when people recommend books to me, but this one was suggested by a friend who has very similar reading tastes to mine so I decided to try it. In most cases, reading the first page is all I need to know if the book is for me. It didn’t take long for this one to convince me. I enjoyed it very much.

  3. Jenners says:

    I read this last year and it was very different. I loved the whole past life story and I thought those stories were really well done. I don’t think I was as big of a fan of it as you were but it was an interesting read. I agree that it would have been helpful to have read Dante’s Inferno before reading this one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *