A Traditional Book Review: Echoes of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight by Jo Robinson #bookreview #MondayBlogs

I’m still chugging along with a free online poetry course so here, again, is a traditional book review.  And, again, why wait?  I’ve posted this review on Amazon and Goodreads, but why not share the review through my blog now instead of waiting for my Muse (i.e., Time) to strike a different kind of book review within me?  I say, drum up some interest (and hopefully $$) for the author now!  So, here we go …

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Jo Robinson’s novel is a fascinating study of a psychological disorder, Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder, in the framework of a novel. Donna is the wife of Marco, a man used to getting his own way and being in total control. Marco has never physically harmed Donna, but he has emotionally abused and neglected her. Robinson neatly lays out the domestic abuse that is the foundation of Donna’s marriage to Marco as well as Donna’s growing strength and self-determination when she learns, by happenstance, about the madness behind her husband’s actions.

Having worked with victims of domestic abuse, I truly appreciated how well Robinson informs the reader of Donna’s situation without turning her novel into a self-help book. It really isn’t, even though it will no doubt be helpful to any reader who may be a victim to such a creature as Marco. The novel allows you to consider with Donna her options as she tries to free herself from her cruel husband. Along the way she is very fortunate to make friends with a group of charmingly eccentric characters who see through her efforts to hide her shame at being manipulated. And she learns that she has a talent, a skill that few have. A skill that could be her key to freedom.

I liked Donna so much that I wish Robinson had described her a bit more. The reader spends a lot of time in Donna’s head, which works to make her very sympathetic to the reader. But while she considers herself ugly, I suspected that Donna was in fact beautiful. I was frustrated at times to not have a better picture of her drawn for me by the author, but then I wondered if that were on purpose. Without a portrait of lines and color, I had to fill in with my own vision of Donna, and that could be any woman, especially any woman I had counseled in escaping an abusive relationship.

Some things also seemed a little too easy, too convenient for Donna, such as the good luck in finding friends in spite of her near-total isolation. Even her own adult daughter seemed slow to understand what was happening to Donna. And, yet, Robinson doesn’t give Donna too easy a time of it. Extricating herself from someone like Marco won’t be easy, and it could be life threatening to Donna, even her friends and daughter.

I do recommend this book both as an entertaining novel of mystery and as a psychological study that may chill you to the bone.

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Jo Robinson is the author of several novels, which you can learn about here on her Amazon page.  Be sure to follow her blog as well (click here).  With Jo’s writing, there’s something for everyone.

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About 1WriteWay

Writer, blogger, knitter, and cat lover.
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13 Responses to A Traditional Book Review: Echoes of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight by Jo Robinson #bookreview #MondayBlogs

  1. I’ve heard some good things about this book, Marie. Of course, your review was my favorite…as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review Marie. I love jo’s books and this looks like a winner.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another great review, Marie. It’s always nice to hear the perspective of someone familiar with a setting or plot situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Luanne says:

    I wanna read this. Thanks, Marie! Keep having fun with poetry!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice review. I especially liked this part: “But while she considers herself ugly, I suspected that Donna was in fact beautiful. I was frustrated at times to not have a better picture of her drawn for me by the author, but then I wondered if that were on purpose. Without a portrait of lines and color, I had to fill in with my own vision of Donna, and that could be any woman, especially any woman I had counseled in escaping an abusive relationship.”
    And now I must go order the book (I am spending way, way too much money on books but really, what else is money for, eh?).

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1WriteWay says:

      I’m glad you liked the review, Cinthia! I tried to be measured in my reviews when it comes to part that I didn’t like or feel comfortable with. My dislike may not mean that the book fails, only that I have certain preferences or expectations. Jo describes most of the other characters at length, so that’s why I suspected that she purposely left her physical descriptions of Donna somewhat vague … to encourage the reader to be more active in imagining her. In any case, it’s a good read and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it 🙂

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  6. L. Marie says:

    I enjoyed your review. I probably would feel the same way about the descriptions. But perhaps, like you said, the other left room for us to imagine Donna. That would be interesting since her husband has a narcissistic personality and probably always focuses on himself.

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