Beatrice--virgil

I???d been waiting a long time for a new novel from Yann Martel (Life of Pi was one of my top five of the last decade) and I???m so very happy that Beatrice and Virgil??does not disappoint (but make no mistake, this book is very different from Life of Pi).

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In this semi-autobiographical novel, successful author Henry spends five years researching and writing his newest book, a flip book containing both a non-fiction essay and a novel about the Holocaust (with the exception of Maus, writing about the Holocaust has been dominated by historical realism, and Henry wonders, why the resistance to artful metaphor?) When he finally submits the completed work to his editors, he receives an invitation to lunch. He attends, anticipating encouraging words, only to be rapidly and thoroughly deflated by four editors, an historian and a bookseller. Devastated, Henry and his wife Sarah move abroad. Unable to write, Henry takes up Spanish and music lessons, performs with the local theatre group and takes a part-time job at a caf??, enjoying the companionship and simple work.

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One day Henry receives a mysterious package from a fan, containing a short story and an excerpt of a play, with a note from the sender asking for help. Perplexed, Henry returns the package to his pile of fan mail, only to have it resurface a couple of weeks later. He composes a standard encouraging reply (he responds to all of his mail) and, noticing the return address is not far from his own, decides to drop off his note as he walks his dog. The address turns out to belong to a marvellous taxidermy shop, filled with almost every imaginable creature, frozen in time. The owner, a sombre, taciturn man, is the author of the play, a work that???s been in progress for years. The play???s central figures are Beatrice and Virgil, a donkey and a howler monkey who came to the taxidermist together. Henry becomes increasingly invested in the strange story of Beatrice and Virgil as he assists the taxidermist in his authorship, waiting patiently to learn the meaning behind the seemingly allegorical fiction, a meaning that is slowly, shockingly revealed.

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This is a gem that will have you in its grips from the first page to the devastating finish. If you have any worries that it won???t live up to Life of Pi, you can forget them now. Now stop reading this, and go read Beatrice and Virgil.

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Watch an author video here.??

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