Thursday, January 7, 2021

Book Review: The Lost Manuscript: A Novel by Cathy Bonidan

While on vacation in Brittany, Anne-Lise finds a manuscript in her bedside table and reads it. And loves it. The novel touches her deeply, and she's determined to find the author. 
She quickly tracks him down. And the mystery deepens incredibly. He lost the manuscript on a plane twenty years earlier. And at that time, it was unfinished. It is no longer.
In this fun epistolary novel, we hopscotch across France, a few times to the UK and Canada, as Anne-Lise enlists the help of her best friend, and everyone she runs across along the way. She picks up strays and befriends everyone who has loved this novel in a rare way that feels both entirely open and genuine at the same time. The manuscript took a varied and curious trip as it meandered its way from the author to Anne-Lise. At first it's odd that Anne-Lise would go to so much effort on this quest but even that makes sense in the end. 
I do appreciate that unlike a lot of epistolary novels, there's no recapping of events the recipient of the letter attended, for the same of telling the reader. That means some things are skipped over and occasionally you have to figure out what happened through deduction or a little later. The one contrived part is the use of actual snail mail. Anne-Lise's best friend has eschewed all modern technology, not owning a phone (at all--landline or cell!) which is the primary excuse, but it's flimsy. This all could have just as easily been on email and it wouldn't be any the worse for wear, in my opinion. But it's charming and light and a real treat for writers.
This book is published by St. Martin's Press, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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