Tears of Beauty
by Cornelia Fontane
AuthorHouse UK

"If you like the story of the Garden of Eden from the Holy Bible, you must see the gardens of Iraq and Iran."

Village life near Cambridge, England, in 1979 is good but somewhat tedious. Pimply, bespectacled Simon is a nerd. Sarah is beautiful, bold, and a talented athlete. Both are immigrants who grapple with the incongruity of modern life and their respective cultural heritages. The kids’ friendship and futures are uncertain due to their parents’ life choices. Hungry for acceptance and love, Simon and Sarah careen from pillar to post in a world of misbegotten circumstance. Ultimately, their paths diverge, taking them far away from England to unfamiliar homelands where their lives mesh once more in a heart-wrenching conclusion.

This is a story on the brink of success. It comes across as almost brilliant and almost a tour de force. It threatens to burst from the seams of its novelette word count, and it is apparent early on that the vibrant characters, their friendships, and the trajectory of their lives could easily fill a novel-length work to the brim. Whenever the plot teeters on the edge of predictability, or the prose feels awkward or unbearably down-to-earth, the story takes rapid flight in lyrical twists of fate: “Lying there like a giant emerald buried in sand and rocks was a distinctive culture and nature that had been maltreated, trodden down, and shot up . . .”

The poignancy of the “awkward boy meets radiant girl” trope is made fresh again in this bittersweet coming-of-age tale. Fontane’s future as a storyteller is assured, and readers will hope to see more of her evocative creations.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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