The novel is clever and complex—another manuscript, Jillian’s Confession, figures in as well—but easy to follow. It will appeal to readers who love literary puzzles, interlocking portraits of relationships, and playful but dead-serious inquiry into the complexities of love, sex, and family. While the characters all offer their own incisive commentary about the central relationships, Linden leaves it to readers to reach their own conclusions: the William of the play seems intended as enlightened and sensitive yet comes off as controlling and manipulative—if that’s intentional, which author intends it? (Late in the book, Linden smartly upends some assumptions about authorship and perspective, casting a new light on what’s come before–and stirring more questions.)
Dr. Seiden’s lecture notes, meanwhile, gush with comic overstatement about the very works we’re reading (“the most beautiful, tender and erotic in all of literature”) yet also reveal striking insights that enrich the whole. Readers who find such play rewarding will find this novel a fest of ideas, surprises, and consistent sharp, engaging, prose.
Takeaway: A playful meta-novel whose stories within stories examine love.
Comparable Titles: Nicole Krauss, John Barth.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B