Review Blog

Jun 11 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781406348088.
A debut novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender follows the lives of Ava Lavender and the two previous generations of her family. The family begins in France, and migrates to America in 1912, when Emilienne is eight. It is a story of the loves, losses and obsessions of Ava, her mother Viviane Lavender, and her grandmother Emilienne Roux.
The genre is magic realism. Ava is born with wings, ghosts are part of the family's everyday life, and portents abound. The novel could be one to include in a school library and might prove useful for Yr 12 English students who would like to use it as a comparative text with other novels of the magic realism genre, or as an exploration of the theme of love, including a number of strong examples of unrequited love. It could also be an interesting story to discuss independence - Ava is cloistered in the family home in order to be protected from the world at large, with serious consequences when she ventures forth.
The book is written in lyrical prose and would appeal to a sophisticated reader.
Anne Veitch

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