The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The third book of our beloved The Order of Fiction Book Club was The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. For both of us this jewel of a book became one of our yearly favourites and we actually listened to it on audio – the narrator is brilliant and her reading is magical. This book falls under the magical realism category and is perfect for fans of fantasy as well. Beware though of the trigger – rape and abuse. This is on one hand a major spoiler but as a firm believer in trigger warnings, this had to be said. The writing of the book is extremely beautiful and lyrical so the story reads as a modern day fairytale. Samanta and I decided to talk about two things with regards to the book.

The first is our favourite character and to me that was Viviene. She was the middle generation of the women in this book and I think I identified with her the most because she experienced depression and was unable to leave her home for a while. And the tragic love story that she had to endure broke my heart and that just made me love her even more. Her continuing story with Gabe was so bitter-sweet and I kept rooting for them to finally be together because Gabe was such a good person, so very kind and gentle. I did love the ending A LOT and I also loved Viviene’s character development, how she went from being hopelessly in love with that asshole Jack to finally getting over him and realising that true love was actually always there, waiting for her just a couple of steps away.

The second thing we talked about was the difference between plot driven stories and character driven narrative. This book was mostly character driven despite also being plot oriented but mostly it concentrated on the women of the family. For me this style of writing is my favourite. I don’t particularly like plot driven stories because I do care primarily about the characters and what drives them, what makes them tick. Also I value beautiful writing styles and this book definitely has that. The writing is absolutely stunning, mesmerising and enchanting. The characters were fleshed out so vividly, it really felt like we knew them, like they were our friends. And I think that’s what good writing is all about.