Thursday, June 28, 2007

Book Review - Eva Moves the Furniture

Eva Moves the Furniture came to me by way of Rodney's Bookstore in Brookline. Margot Livesey's fictional life of Evan MacEwan in WWII-era Scotland appealed to me with its mention of ghostly companions on the back cover. The furniture moving reference reminded me of my studies in Spiritualism, so I brought it home.

From the beginning, the writing style was very engrossing. Livesey's prose is sturdy and clean, and yet extremely evocative of mood. Her words are expressive, but never overstated or grandiloquent, keeping in the theme of a sparsely kept life in a rural countryside.

Eva's character develops slowly but surely, drawing you in to hear her stories. While some references are made to events out of sequence (the book is narrated by Eva, looking backward), they always lead back to the main thread of the story, weaving events and characters neatly together.

What strikes me as the most triumphant success of this book is the ghostly characters themselves. In other books that I have read involving paranormal characters/events, it becomes obvious that asking the reader to suspend disbelief in favor of the ghosts is asking a lot. It's very tricky to keep them "real" enough to make the story work. In Jennifer McMahon's Promise Not to Tell, I found the story engaging, but the ghost involvement jarring compared to the actual characters. Not so with Eva's companions; they glide into place, blending into the tapestry of Eva's life completely.

Since I write reviews without spoilers, I will only say that the ending made me cry. This is the mark of a good book; one that touches you so deeply, you can weep for it. I think perhaps my greatest criticism would be that it's a very short book. I'll be looking for more of Livesey's work in the future.

Five stars out of five

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