Monday, March 16, 2015
The Circle of Stones by Suzanne Alyssa Andrew
Circle of Stones
I'm still not certain how I feel about this novel. I found it hard to feel attached to many of the characters, whose lives seemed suspended or disconnected, as if their personalities were in abeyance or underdeveloped. The main characters are college students, but what is described is not the lack of depth one typically expects of college students wrapped up in new experiences and still searching for deeper meanings in their first experiences living away from home. It felt more like a refusal to engage.
Now that may sound strange since Nik was totally engaged with his art and Jennifer with her dance. The title is apt--in addition to the physical circle of stone, the story is circular. Continuing the stone metaphor, think of the ripples caused by a stone tossed in the water.
Nik is an art student desperately in love with Jennifer, who is as committed to dance as Nik is to his painting. When Jennifer disappears, Nik eventually goes in search of her, and as Nik travels across Canada following clues that may lead him to Jennifer, he encounters a number of other characters who share a brief moment in the spotlight. All of the characters have tenuous connections; a gauzy sort of spider web of connections in the six degrees of separation vein.
My favorite character was the grandmother, not Nik or Jennifer or Tim or any of the other characters encountered throughout the journey. In fact, the grandmother is the only character who felt grounded and substantial.
Is the novel a parable of contemporary life, illustrating the feelings of isolation and disengagement that so many people experience? I'm not sure what I was supposed to get from the book. I liked the writing, but the story didn't fully engage my interest and the pace was slow, perhaps appropriately so. Nik and Jennifer felt more like illusive ideas than real people. The love story is a strange one, and not only in the way Nik always painted pieces of Jennifer rather than the whole.
Read in Oct.; blog post scheduled for March 16
Contemporary Fiction. March 28, 2015. print length: 272 pages.