Friday, 27 February 2015
A Review of The Rosewood Guitar by Mariam Kobras
Twenty four year old Jon Stone writes songs and works in a bookstore in New York. He’s not chasing Hollywood fame but dreams of a successful music career. Sadly his girlfriend, Jenny, doesn’t share his enthusiasm. When Jon is given the opportunity to move to Los Angeles to form a band and sign a recording contract, Jenny declines the offer to go with him. In LA, Jon is cossetted and treated like royalty, but something’s missing; someone to share his life. When something happens that shocks him to the core, he begins to rethink his future as a rock star.
When I’d read The Rosewood Guitar, I felt as if I’d just returned from holiday. So vivid and colourful are Mariam’s descriptions of New York and Los Angeles, that I’d visited them in my mind’s eye.
New York’s ‘rain-washed streets,’ ‘the glittering skyline of Manhattan,’ ‘the constant song of the big city on its island; the horns of the ships, the thrum of traffic from the bridge.’
Mariam Kobras's writing is so beautifully observational that she can paint a picture with words. Occasionally it can read like poetry, but if it’s well written, this doesn’t detract from the tension or action.
‘The sun was beginning to set as they reached Santa Monica, and driving down to the beach, Jon felt reconciled. He took off his sneakers and walked along the sand to the water, feeling the warmth of a sunny day under his feet. The sky was immense. ( ) Wide slow waves moved towards the shore, only to break in the tiniest whisper of foam at his feet.’
Mariam’s characters are believable. They have flaws and make mistakes, but they also show a warmth and humour that makes the reader relate to them and care what will happen to them as the story unfolds. The pace of The Rosewood Guitar flows as smoothly and effortlessly as the Hudson. Each chapter moves the storyline along but the reader doesn’t feel rushed. Time is taken to smell, hear, taste and see the big cities and what they have to offer. Occasionally Jon’s thoughts on missing his family repeat themselves, but I imagine feelings of homesickness do reappear depending on how we’re feeling. I liked the descriptions of the changes in weather between LA and New York. It helped to underline the two halves of Jon’s life.
‘Snow had begun to fall. The flakes were tiny. They looked like confectioner’s sugar drifting on the air, doing intricate dances over the subway grates, gathering in corners and nooks instead of covering surfaces. Jon notes how people looked skyward before turning up the collars of their coats, most of them with smiles on their faces.’
I enjoyed this feel-good, page-turner of a book and the only downside was that I wished it could have been longer…but that’s where the Stone trilogy comes in! (Published by Buddhapuss Ink.)