I was interested in Echo Year because I am always interested in books set in France. Just tell me it’s set in France and you’ve got a reader. It seems like it was listed in mysteries but it is definitely not a mystery. It’s one of those books with no clear genre that I end up just listing as literary. It’s just the story of some people’s lives and I never know what to call that.
The book is the story of David Crown, an English Jew living in the south of France on an estate he is restoring. His mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and his American girlfriend live with him. His family had owned a very successful company that was bought out by a rival, allowing him to leave the business with a substantial wealth. He’s able to make his dream of living in a maison in the south of France with a lover come true.
His Judaism doesn’t play much part in his life in general until one day when going into town to buy gargoyles for his house, he happens upon a synagogue and stops to look at it. Unfortunately for him, not all inhabitants of the town are friendly toward Jews and violence follows. His idyllic existence is changed forever.
There are a number of themes explored in this book. Racism and nationalism are two clear themes but all the characters are also dealing with the purpose of life, one of the biggest questions anyone asks. Can a person change and can a person be redeemed from their past are also played with.
My take-away from the book, and this is probably not what the author intended to be the main take-away, was that everyone needs work to do. Work that matters. When you have no reason to get up in the morning, things go downhill fast. David and his girlfriend Rowena don’t have to do anything if they don’t want to because they have money so they question their purpose. Rashid, an Arab immigrant involved in the violence, can’t get a job so he gets involved in criminal behavior for lack of something better to do. Work that matters is essential to humans and this story played that out , in my mind at least.
I felt and saw the characters very clearly. Their motivations were clear, their emotions were clear, their feelings were clear. The characterizations were excellent.
This is not a feel-good book. This is a lot of troubled people dealing with their troubled lives. That is not the kind of thing I normally read but this was definitely worth my time.
I received this book free for review.