One thing, it’s a very complex book for me. I find it hard to digest but at the same time I do find some parts enjoyable. Just like what art is to me.
Poets, Artists, Lovers: A Novel is certainly not a beach read. It is not something that you can pick up and read to pass time by. When Mira first approached me and asked if I could review her book, I was honestly shocked and happy at the same time. I have never professionally reviewed a book (not that this is a professional one) and certainly not one approached to review a published work so I wanted to be honest in my review as this is what I can offer.
I have a thing for art and poetry. I like poetry but I love novels. I have an inclination to art even though I don’t understand it most of the time. That’s why when I read the synopsis of the book, it intrigued me.
First impressions. Let’s talk about first impressions. I think, honestly, that if I was not approached, I might not have discovered this book And even if I saw it in passing, I might not have picked it up. When I read the title, my first impression was like “Who puts novel in a novel title these days?” When I read the synopsis (even though I was curious), it took me a long time to accept the character names (told you I have a thing for character names). Henrietta, Pamfil…. These are definitely not names that you’ll encounter in most contemporary novels. It took me a while to get used to the names but I got over it and continued with the novel.
Characters. Reading the novel, I find it hard to focus on who is or are really the main character’s. There’s a lot of characters in the novel. You thought you’ve been introduced to them all already then suddenly another character comes along then another one. This made it harder for me to grasp everything at first. The POVs often change but more than Henriette and Ela, I think the book really revolves with Pamfil. I don’t know who’re the poets, the artists, the lovers anymore.
Pamfil, for some sort of reason, is a girl/woman magnet and is such a frivolous guy. Like every girl/woman described in the book seemed to fall for him in one way or another. Henriette, Ela, Anca, Marie… Like this Pamfil guy is really a charmer isn’t he? For all these girls, no matter what the age gap and relationship status is, they seem to just for fall for him in an instant. But my main question is, why does Pamfil act this way? Does he really fall in love easily? Is it just lust? Was there anything in his past that made him this way? With all the flashbacks in the story, I was never able to find the reason why.
Themes. Speaking of relationship status, that’s the thing, I also find hard reading in the book. It involves cheating and a lot of it. And in this book, the women are the one having the affair. And all but with one guy, Pamfil. Henriette cheated with Pamfil for years, Anca with Pamfil one summer when she’s clearly with Marcel. Ela fell in love with him while she’s with George and Pamfil is secretly with Henriette who’s having an affair. Can this group of friend’s relationship web get even more complicated? But maybe this is reality and maybe I was uncomfortable, in the sense that, at the back of my mid, I know that this is possible and that this is happening. Just because I don’t have first hand experience at it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Sequence. This is not a linear story. Every so often it will go back to the past. It will bring up new characters. Changing back and forth confused me. There were dates given but I could not keep track of them unless I’ve written them down or go back again.
Ending. When I reached the end, I was like, “That’s it?” Even with all the confusion, I have developed a ship between Pamfil and Henriette. That’s why I would have love to see if the frivolous Pamfil will emerge again when he meets Henriette years after their affair. But nada, there was nothing more. It’s the end.
But more than all this, I appreciate that the book introduced me to a wider concept of the art. It is informative in this regard. I like how various art pieces, artists, creators, poets, poems were included in the novel. It introduced me to places I never thought I’ll encounter much in a novel (since mostly I just read US novels).
I also like that it holds more than the superficial things. Like it is trying to teach you about being an artist, a poet, a lover, and how complicated love and relationship can be. I like that it gives you perspective on how one person can affect and influence so many. I like the growth as well of Ela and Henriette. Of how, in their own pacing and time, cope with the changes.
The novel speaks like how I see art. It’s complicated in it’s own way, sometimes people don’t understand or could not appreciate it. It takes connection, deeper understanding, focus, experience, to see and appreciate what lies underneath.
I think that Poets, Artists, Lovers: A Novel would speak more to the adult. To the ones who have or had experienced a fair share of relationship experience, to the deep thinkers.
Over all, I was not able to be hundred percent in tune with the novel but I enjoyed my time reading. Thank you for the opportunity.