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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Book Review: Black Sugar by Miguel Bonnefoy

This was a really interesting, lyrical story – it reminded me quite a bit of The Bridge of San Luis Rey (read through the post link, the book information is about half-way down)… Both are, to many, considered slow and short on action. That is true – they are both of those things. But that is because they are not books about action, but about people and the choices they make (and don’t make) and the way those choices and decisions affect their lives.

Black Sugar opens with big action – there are pirates and a shipwreck and a mutinous crew. There’s a descent into madness and treasure and the promise of a future treasure hunt. Then things slow down – WAY down. And from the reviews I’ve seen, that’s where a lot of readers lose interest. But that’s where I found the story to really grow into itself…

I liked the dramatic, action-packed opening – don’t get me wrong. But I also REALLY enjoyed the character studies of the various members of the Otero family and Severo Bracamonte. I was not terribly familiar with the history and development of Venezuela, and really enjoyed the history that intertwined with the family drama to provide color and depth to the story.

I am always impressed when a story flows so lyrically (yes, I know I used that word already, but it’s the best one) – doubly so when it happens in a translation. It’s a testament to the skill and talent not only of the author but also the translator. I cannot imagine it’s easy to shift between languages and cultures and maintain the feel of a story without being able to use native idioms and expressions. I don’t any language but English, so will never know exactly how well translators perform their feats, because I cannot read an original text and a translation to compare them, but I can tell you that Emily Boyce has done a lovely job in rendering Bonnefoy’s tale in a voice that rings true throughout and there is nary a stumble in the flow.

My review copy was provided by Meryl Zegarek Public Relations on behalf of the author. This provision in no way shaped my review.

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