"A bittersweet story of love and loss set in one of the most colorful cities on the planet in its film-noirish heyday." - Peter Behrens, author of Law of Dreams and The O'Briens
Book Review - Echo from Mount Royal by Dave Riese
"I had discovered the secret of existence.
One cannot escape life.
Whatever happens, one must endure"
-Rebecca, Echo from Mount Royal
Echo from Mount Royal by Dave Riese is a sweeping saga about young Rebecca who finds herself head over heels in love with Sol, a boy from a wealthy family. Told from the perspective of a much older 81-year-old Rebecca, she recalls, in vivid detail, the year 1951, when she was only 18 years old and falling in love for the first time. She's a bright college student living with her family in Montreal, Canada when her path crosses Sol. Not a typical romance because once they try to get to know each other as a couple, their own respective backgrounds and family secrets begin to surface, threatening to tear them apart. Firmly believing that love is more than enough to overcome any of the issues that they face, her tale is a reminder of the exhilarating joy first love can bring, and the deep scars it can leave behind. This story is full of great discussion topics such as first love, religion and social class, which is why it makes for an ideal read for a Book Club.
Rebecca is a very likable character. Even though she is very headstrong, she's very naïve to think that love is more than enough to conquer all complex issues such as class and religion. Despite all the roadblocks that she's faced in her quest to remain with Sol, she fights hard and passionately in the love that she believes she deserves. From the opening pages, I was hooked on her narrative. Generally, I'm not a fan of prologues, but this prologue was executed perfectly in the sense that it made me hungry for the story. The tale begins in 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts and 81 year old Rebecca reaches back into her memory to conjure up the Montreal she knew in 1951. Rich in details, and vivid descriptions to bring many different scenes to life.
The story gives just enough backstory on her family so that the characters leap from the page during each scene. This aspect is key, because the story deals with many class issues, and having intimate knowledge about Rebecca's middle-class family is vital for when she is introduced into Sol's world of wealth and upper-class privilege. The author does a very good job at showing the readers how Rebecca struggles to try and find a place into Sol's world. For example, when both of them are dining at a fancy restaurant, Rebecca comments that she felt like she'd "sneaked into a theatre without paying."
Sol is a very complicated character, from the very beginning as a reader, you find that there is something very mysterious about him. He is mistrusting and has a very complicated relationship with his family. When terrifying family secrets come to the surface, Rebecca tries her hardest to make him believe that her love and support is all he needs.
"Echo from Mount Royal" is mostly a tale about a young girl maturing and recognizing the kind of love she really deserves, versus a boy meets girl type of tale. Full of vivid descriptions, crisp dialogue and a headstrong female protagonist at its center, this book left me emotionally exhausted but equally sad to see it end.