Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Farundell by L R Fredericks

A young man's search for meaning!

In the summer of 1924 Paul Asher, still shattered by the trauma of the Western front, comes to Farundell, an idyllic, country house set deep in Oxfordshire. There he falls under the spell of the rich and eccentric Damory family: the celebrated Amazon explorer Perceval, Lord Damory, now blind and dying, whose story echoes Paul's own strange dreams; brilliant thirteen-year-old Alice, on the cusp of adulthood and. like Paul, a seeker of knowledge; and most fatefully, the wild and beautiful Sylvie, with whom he falls passionately in love.
" an enigmatic book" certainly is that and a book I'm having difficulty with sorting out my very mixed feelings about it. I will say that if you prefer strong plots and plenty of action don't even bother picking it up.

The writing is beautiful ; lyrical descriptive prose and the author has the ability to create a wonderful sense of atmosphere. Most of the story is set at Farundell and with its isolation and not-quite-normal inhabitants it becomes a place that seems not quite of this world with a surreal Wonderland quality.  
With an interest in all things esoteric I enjoyed the metaphysical themes - Paul's study of Hermes Trismegistus and working with bibliomancy, the family's ability to astral travel in their 'moon bodies', dreams and their interpretation was all fascinating although I could have done without some of the baffling philosophical discussions .

If I'd been asked my opinion of the book at the halfway point I would have said I was loving it but then it all started to go downhill. The moment came when I realised I had no emotional investment in what happened to these people, I was fed up with Paul's 'erotic obsession' with Sylvie and completely confused with all the extra stories continually being introduced. I finished it by skimming the final 100 pages.

Farundell is a debut novel and my overall feeling is that the author tried to do too much with the result there were too many characters, too many themes and too many pages.But  I loved it's originality and the beautiful writing enough to know I would read L K Fredericks again.

Publisher: John Murray, 2010

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