"Wonder", by Dominique Fortier

Wonder - Dominique Fortier, Sheila Fischman

This is a three part novel that brings to life a cast of characters both historical and fictional and opens with a much too formal and opulent narrative to have piqued my fancy but this doesn't remove the interesting points it may have tried to convey.

The first part “Monster and Marvels” is based on the true story of Baptiste Cyparis, an Afro-Caribbean man who was recruited by the Barnum & Bailey Circus after he survived the apocalyptic eruption of Martinique’s Mt. Pelée in 1902. At first this captivated me but it unfortunately petered out in no time and I “wondered” what went wrong and how come it left me so flat.

Then we suddenly move to the second part, “Harmony of the Spheres. In a style effortlessly precise and rather poetic we fall into a kind of puzzle hard to understand. Its characters Edward and Garance, are an eccentric couple both gifted and very strange. Edward, a mathematician, has a compulsion for numbers and it was quite a challenge to attempt understanding where this story was leading. In fact I never did and again I “wondered” why.

And finally everything seems or wants to come together in “Love and Waves”. Set in my hometown of Montreal this last part is the encounter between a young woman and a man whose quiet courtship is based on routine and solace. Unfortunately by then I had lost all interest and my patience was at its end. As I reached the last words, I no longer “wondered” why these stories couldn't take hold of me…… and finally I could move on.

This novel is a real concoction and a very unsatisfying one. The story is convoluted, wholly unaffecting, populated with lazy and boring characters. Whether I wasn't in the mood or simply couldn't grasp the essence, this novel simply never managed to hold my interest. It was hard to connect the dots and make sense of the whole thing. Was this book too original or maybe the style too flowery? If you like verbose description this novel may be right up your alley, it definitely was not mine. Did things get lost in translation, I doubt it….