Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Of cloves and bitter almonds by Lou Drofenik

The plot of the book I'm reading Of cloves and bitter almonds written by a Maltese-Australian novelist (Lou Drofenik) is spread on four different historical eras: the present (in Australia were the narrator is writing her story), the fifties/sixties of the 20th century (the author's early days in Malta, B'Kara), the 9th century and the 15th century (in Malta, B'Kara). The common factor is a house in which different generations of men and women lived. There is a mystery hidden behind this house. The narrator tries to go back in time in order to uncover such a mystery which goes back for centuries.
Thus the novel is a voyage through time, memory and also space (Australia and Malta). It is also an intimate voyage in which the narrator tries to understand better herself and her roots.
The novel also treats the relationship between man and woman, the importance of the family, the Maltese rural environment, superstitions, fears, but also the emancipation of women.
Personally, I found the beginnig a bit slowmoving but as I continued reading and as the narrator introduced flashbacks about Maltese living way back in the 9th and the 15 centuries the plot started to regain energy and pace.
I liked also the mixture of the imagnative part of the story with the historical background which Drofenik builds after referring and reading the right reference books.