Thank you so much, Laura Azzi, a fine artist/teacher and novelist, for your book review this week: The Amalgamist by Cristel Orrand of Raleigh, North Carolina. Laura also lives in Raleigh and is extremely active in the Wonderland Book Club, a monthly gathering of the NC Writers’ Network Wake County members.
And now to Laura’s review of The Amalgamist:
Cristel Orrand’s novel The Amalgamist begins in New York City with Miri, a frustrated business woman who discovers her home has been broken into and only her old love letters are stolen. “I’m done,” Miri says to her best friend, Beth. In a snap decision, Miri quits her stressful job, puts her house on the market and decides to move to Turkey. Weeks before she leaves, Miri meets an intriguing man, considerably younger than her, named Alex. Then the thought of leaving her best friend, Beth, threatens to hinder Miri’s departure as she says, “goodbye to all the walls and spaces within. She tried to remember what each one contained and she could place the furniture in her mind but found the space didn’t hold much for her anymore.”
The course of events prior to her departure for Turkey brings in two characters: Agnes, an elderly Realtor, and Alex, the already mentioned much younger amour who adamantly pursues her. The sudden purchase of Miri’s home by Agnes and the growing love she has for Alex weaves a thread of mystery and conflict.
Upon arriving in Turkey, Miri puts Alex behind her. She embraces new customs and samples deliciously spiced dishes while enjoying the conversations of interesting people in a Turkish boarding house. While she explores her surroundings, Miri learns more about herself and what others think of her, but an unexpected turn of events causes her to re-examine her life and her future.
The story has moments of unevenness as the point of view switches back and forth from first to third to omniscient point of view. Some of the conversations were confusing because they lacked dialogue tags and it took a lot of backtracking to figure out who was saying what to whom. At times the slow pacing of the novel prevented the reader from learning anything new about the characters.
However, The Amalgamist is an engaging, compelling novel with a unique cast of characters. Ms. Orrand does a great job at portraying a woman suddenly forced to re-examine and re-discover her life. Ms. Orrand creates beautiful scenes of Turkey and gives a genuine sense of an American adjusting to a new country. I think women in particular will find this an engrossing, fast read.
Laura Azzi is a professional artist (watercolor and pen & ink) who teaches at NC State. With her diverse background in biology, medical research and business, Laura is always up for learning new things. She lives in Raleigh, NC, is an active member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and is working on her first novel about a dog, called Jacks.