Rich in spirit-veiled detail, sublimely suspenseful and a roller coaster ride to the end, this book will have you caught up in a labyrinth of quests to solve the mystery of a century old bond between a father and daughter, a fatal illness and the paranormal.
Characters are strong in this book. They are vividly drawn and imaginative. I couldn't help feeling great sympathy for the desperate father who only wanted to save his child's life...a situation of love that ultimately turned deadly in the hands of the wrong people.
From a feminist point of view, one of Mr. Luzzatto's main characters, an aspiring French actress is nothing short of indomitable! As a strong representative of the best in women, she's a treasure. Feisty and heroic, she doesn't let ruthless men who pursue her and her lover, get the better of her. She's resourceful and resilient even when her lover, the Professor sometimes isn't! I loved her fighting spirit. She's a respectable and intelligent woman character, as well as a sexy one. A woman we can be proud of. Kudos to the author on this one!
On the other hand, Luzzatto's Professor, the other central figure in "The Evelyn Project" is the pensive character we'd expect him to be. Unsure of whom and which group of strange new fellows to trust, he balances their virtues against their unlikely truths. He takes us along for the ride as we try to figure out who to trust and who to believe in the quest for "Evelyn" and the secrets surrounding century old documents.
Story development is well defined. It's easy to follow the progression of this thriller through the eyes of a cultish group with their own longevity agenda, to the race of Evelyn's professorial ancestor for his life and his wits against them. I liked being kept guessing...who were the real "bad guys" in the chase?!
This is a fast-paced, intriguing novel that will keep you wondering until it's resolved in the closing pages. Kfir Luzzatto is an intelligent author who gives us an original story with turns of plot that hit you head-on! There were several surprises in the novel I didn't see coming, and I consider myself a seasoned reader. This is a book I can safely recommend to those who enjoy a thriller with paranormal and historical fiction underpinnings. You'll find the final repercussions just startling! I did.
5 stars Deborah/TheBookishDame
Particulars of the Book:
Published by: Pine 10
Author: Kfir Luzzatto
Purchase "The Evelyn Project" here: Amazon and Smashwords
Find Mr. Luzzatto Here: His Website
The Bookish Dame Welcomes Kfir Luzzatto for a Guest Post :
Mr. Luzzatto, would you discuss for us what inspired you to write this book?
"I am always taken by surprise when a story line somehow finds its way into my consciousness and, once settled there, demands to be written. Then I’m stuck with it, whether I like it or not. And, unfortunately, those story ideas don't come equipped with a well thought-out plot; instead, you get this rather fuzzy but nagging image that won't go away until the story is fully developed. This is what happened to me with "The Evelyn Project".
Evelyn (or, rather Evelina, as she was named in my native Italy) was my great aunt. She died of tuberculosis in 1894. She was only 26 years old. My great-grandfather was an influential politician who left no stone unturned to try to save his daughter and got her the best medical care that was available at the turn-of-the-century, among which praying was probably the most effective measure.
Evelyn's studio portrait, which I used in the book cover, hangs on the wall beside my writing desk. My second daughter, Lilach, is her living image and her 26th birthday is approaching fast. That might have been a catalyst for me to write the book, although the sad story of Evelyn’s death was always a part of my family’s ethos; I must've sucked it in with my milk because I can't remember the first time her name was mentioned. When my parents died I was left with the responsibility to make sure that my family history would not be forgotten. That entailed a lot of reading in books, documents and letters, which brought Evelyn's figure increasingly to life for me. I learned of her warm relation with her father through letters she had written to him, and I discovered more than I already knew about my great-grandfather's devotion to her.
Throughout my reading and learning one persistent thought kept popping up in my head: today her death would have been an unnecessary tragedy; with readily-available antibiotics an otherwise healthy young woman would not have succumbed to her illness. So what if it was possible to go back in time and save her using medical technology commonly available today? It is probable that saving Evelyn's life would not have changed the course of history (contrary to what many science fiction books would predict), but even if it did, preventing her father's private hell would have been well worth the price.
Having got emotionally involved in her story I realized that I had to do more than just sit there and shake my head in sorrow. I couldn't just let Evelyn fade away in those yellowing papers. I had to do right by her (whatever that meant). My investigation of Evelyn’s misfortune allowed me to put myself in my great-grandfather's shoes, to feel the emotions that he must have felt (he was approximately my age when Evelyn died) and to test the length to which a father would go in an attempt, no matter how futile, to save his child.
Overall, writing this book turned out to be an exceptionally emotional journey for me. Sometimes I felt ashamed that I was enjoying writing it. Instead of dishing out a uniformly gloomy piece I was writing a fast-paced thriller that, beside the suspense, also has its hilarious moments.
This is not the first time that inspiration has come to me like an assignment from above without any real control from my side. I have learned not to fight the impulse and, instead, to embrace it and to allow myself to be taken on an emotional roller coaster ride without a clear vision of where the journey is likely to end.
I don't believe in stereotyping ghosts, so I won’t say that I recognize Evelyn's hand or my great-grandfather's stick behind my urge to write the story. It is true, however, that now I feel much closer to them than I did before; they have assumed characters and a presence so real that at times it feels as if we had actually met. I often wondered whether they would have grudged me the use I made of their characters in a commercial book, but something tells me that if they can see us they understand that this is my way to give Evelyn some of the life she has been denied, even if only on paper.
But this is not only about Evelyn. My great-grandfather was no less of a victim to her disease than she was. “The Evelyn Project” is my tribute to them both.
Interview with Mr. Luzzatto :
1) What brought you to writing fiction? What's your earliest recollection of wanting to write a book?
I actually wrote a short story when I was 12 years old. The plot was strong but, being honest with myself, I realized that the result stunk. So I hid it deep in my drawer and moved on. It took me some 30 years to sit down and do it again, and this time when I was done I liked what I read.
2) Who are your favorite writers? Why?
My list is very long but the four at the top are:
John Wyndham, because he writes science fiction that reads like real life;
P. G. Wodehouse, because nobody writes dialogue like him and because his are the best escapist books ever written;
Franz Kafka, because of his genius in devising haunting plots with multiple layers, and for writing books that make you skip dinner;
Robert A. Heinlein, because of his sparkling, down-to-earth, transparent (and often funny) writing.
3) How did writing "The Evelyn Project" come about?
Evelyn was my great aunt, who died of tuberculosis at 26. I have always been intrigued by her and her relation with my great-grandfather (her father). I have three daughters and one of them is her living image and will be 26 this year. That got me thinking and I started researching the family archives. One thing led to another and here we are.
4) Do you believe the spirits of our ancestors can "haunt" a family?
Not really. My favorite uncle, who died twenty years ago, promised to come back to haunt us but he’s been AWOL so far, so I guess that settles it.
5) Open you book to page 78. Tell us what's happening there...
It’s actually a defining moment in the book, when my two main characters really start to connect and an important sub-plot develops. Good choice of page!
6) What do you like to do when you're on vacation? Where's your favorite vacation spot?
There is one place on earth that is the closest to Paradise as I can imagine it. It is called Cortina d’Ampezzo and is located in the Dolomites, which belong to the Italian Alps. There is where as a youngster I used to go mountain climbing in the summer and skiing in the winter. Give me some food and let me wander around in the mountains and in the woods; that’s all I need.
7) If you could choose any time and any place to live, where would it be and what would your life be?
I guess I’m strange, but I tend to be happy with my life as it is, and that includes my home.
8) Psychologists tell us that what we wanted to be as a 10 year old is a sign of what our true avocation is. What did you want to be when you were ten? How has it manifested itself in your life?
If my memory serves me well, I wanted to be a sailor. Since in later years I realized that I hate the sea, I guess that those psychologists were talking through their hats.
9) Tell us about your next book!
"An Italian Obsession" is a different kind of book. Different, I mean, from what I have written so far. It is drama written as a very personal slice of life of an Italian youth, who is growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Although it is pure fiction, it is also a faithful testimony of middle class life in a healing post war society.
Thank you for visiting with A Bookish Libraria! I wish you well in your writing endeavors and look forward to reading "An Italian Obsession!"
For a giveaway of the book "The Evelyn Project" please leave a comment and your email address below:
Answering this question: Who is one of Kfir Luzzatto's favorite authors? ;]
*Giveaway for US and Canada only (choice of paperback or ebook)
Contest ends August 31st, 2012