Book Review: Literaria

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August 18, 2014 by I SNIFF BOOKS - Beth

literaria coverLiteraria by Carolyn Boehlke and published by North Star Press of St. Cloud.  ISBN 978-0878397174. 288 pages.

synopsis:  As the librarian of the small town where she grew up, Florence Oneirik finds herself in a world of tremendous isolation. To cope with her loneliness, she seeks refuge in her books and finds companionship in the characters. However, as Stanley Kowalski, Atticus Finch, Harry Potter, and others become more and more real to her, Florence can feel her handle on reality beginning to slip away, and the characters start to take on lives of their own. Once she develops a relationship with Liam Jacheson, a patron of the library, Florence ultimately finds herself conflicted between living in a reality that demands she acknowledge her past and a fiction that allows her to escape but one that she knows is false.

The premise of Literaria reminds me of this bookish quote from one of my favorite books, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:  “From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood….”  However, if you think Literaria is going to be trite and sappy or read like a romantic comedy, you are wrong. Admittedly, I thought it was going to be a bit rom-com.  Literaria exceeded my expectations — it was an unpredictable crazy good page turner.

It’s said so much that it’s become cliche, but you can’t say too much about the story without spoiling the reading experience.  The structure of the narrative is brilliant — it alternates between Florence’s present (2008 – 2009) with flashbacks to specific events from 1993 – 2004.  Florence and her world seemed real to me right away and the way the story is told reinforces the credibility and helps us get to know her.  I had no idea what was going to happen next and just kept turning the pages to keep on reading.

The conversations and interactions Florence has with the literary characters feel so matter-of-fact and natural. And the ones with Harry Potter are quite funny  — Harry Potter is a good contrast between the other more serious and mature, and sometimes macho, men like Rhett Butler and Stanley Kowalski.

Without a doubt this is a 5-star book, but I was surprised to find a handful of typos in Literaria.  I’d be reading along, absorbed in story and I’d be jarred back into reality by a misspelled word.  Spell-check would not have caught these spelling errors, but perhaps a proof reader would have.  I am listing the typos here in case the publisher wants to revise the text for a second printing.

  • pedal should be petal [page 67, 17th line]
  • pedal should be petal [page 74, 6th line]
  • Florence should be Katelyn [page 116, 5th line]
  • where do go should be where to go [page 135, 8th line from the bottom]
  • indigent should be indignant [page 197, 8th line from the bottom]
  • chard should be charred [page 258, bottom line]

As a side note, there were three f-bombs, two of them [pages 68 and 165] were startling because use of the word didn’t even seem to make sense in context, but that third one did! [page 254]

Available for purchase directly from the publisher, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions are my own.

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