INGA Karlson died in a fire in New York in the 1930s, leaving behind three things: a phenomenally successful first novel, the scorched fragments of a second book— and a mystery that has captivated generations of readers.
Nearly fifty years later, Brisbane bookseller Caddie Walker is waiting in line to see a Karlson exhibition featuring the famous fragments when she meets a charismatic older woman.
The woman quotes a phrase from the Karlson fragments that Caddie knows does not exist—and yet to Caddie, who knows Inga Karlson’s work like she knows her name, it feels genuine.
Caddie is electrified. Jolted her from her sleepy, no-worries life in torpid 1980s Brisbane, she is driven to investigate: to find the clues that will unlock the greatest literary mystery of the twentieth century.
I received a copy of this book from Text Publishing for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This was an interesting book. I enjoyed that it was a literary mystery, and that it simultaneously told the story of two girls connected through bizarre circumstances that occurred over a span of fifty years.
It was also fascinating that I really only have three complaints. First, there was a smattering of language throughout, which wouldn’t have phased me except for the fact that it was generally some form of f***, and therefore caught me off guard going from no language at all, to that. Second, the lesbian relationship also surprised me. It occurred quite naturally and didn’t feel stilted or staged, as so often happens in entertainment, but I was really just surprised with how quickly Rachel accepted it. There was no shock, scandal, or thoughts of impropriety, which would be unusual nowadays, no less in the 1930s when it was less common.
My last complaint (which is really more of a compliment) is that the book ended too fast. I wanted to know what happens to all of these characters– does the book get published, what happens with Caddie’s research project, what happens with Jamie? I was sad to not get to hear about all of their conclusions, although the book did end on a very poignant note.
Overall, it was a fascinating book to read. I had no idea how it was going to end, and I loved the classic feel to the writing style. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.