Friday, 12 August 2022

Constellations of Eve by Abbigail Nguyen Rosewood

Constellations of Eve by Abbigail Nguyen Rosewood
Published by Platypus Press on the 11th August 2022.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Eve is a reluctant mother; Eve is a famous phenomenon; Eve is a quiet country teacher. Liam is a successful artist; Liam is a scheming husband; Liam is a gentle partner. Pari is a leading scientific researcher; Pari is a recognized model; Pari is a picture of declining mental states.

Constellations of Eve weaves together three deviations of one love story. In each variation, the narrative changes slightly, with life-altering impacts. Against a backdrop of difficult people finding their place in a constantly shifting universe, the novel manipulates the variables leading to their fraught romantic entanglements, tearing through a host of lifetimes in search of the one in which all the brightest stars align.

In this philosophical fable of art and fate, Abbigail Nguyen Rosewood paints a world that floats above our own and contours the infinitesimal moments that shape who we love, over whom we obsess, and how we decide what to live for.

Each reality allows Eve another chance at finding her true destiny and personal and professional fulfilment―but can she get it right? Is there even such a thing as right? Constellations of Eve wrestles with the most intimate betrayals and the staggering personal costs of stifling artistic ambition, pursuing it to the exclusion of family, or letting it disperse in favor of an all-consuming love.

Constellations Of Eve is a stunning achievement, a novel which is so constantly shifting that it feels like water or sand. In the first part we meet Eve and Liam, their young son Blue and Eve's former college friend Pari. Eve is a housewife, frustrated at life passing her by while she feels unfulfilled and trapped at home with her son, but it was her choice to pour her efforts into Liam's business and Blue is such a perfect, quiet child. I felt this tale was going in one direction until Rosewood subtly alters its perspective to widen the view, and just as I thought I had it worked out, we refocus again. Its masterful writing with an amazing control of pace and vision. I could empathise so strongly with Eve, until I couldn't, but then I could again. Constellations Of Eve felt like an emotional steamroller and this was only the first of its parts.

As described in the synopsis, Constellations Of Eve explores multiple potential lifetimes with the four central figures circling around each other in differing combinations. Perhaps the format is best identified using the analogy of a musical theme and variations. I loved seeing how these people coped with each new scenario, they being completely unaware of their previous lifetimes together. I imagined the philosophy of reincarnation inspiring the whole work. Rosewood's prose is delicate and powerful, and she has such a strong understanding of her characters, especially the women, that I was completely drawn in to their lives.

Constellations Of Eve was one of those rare novels where I found myself still mulling over individual scenes for several days after having finished reading. The book delves deeply into how our choices shape our lives and I am sure I didn't pick up on even half the nuances during my single reading of it. This is a novel to be savoured and reread several times over. 

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