Twisted Knickers Publications, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-9822145-3-4
Contemporary Paranormal Fiction, 2006
Don’t worry, Le Splendor De L’antiquite is in English. The title means “The Splendor of Antiquities” in French, which I suppose is an apt title of sorts as the first person narrator in this person is the spirit of the long-dead Babylonian… king, I suppose, because I don’t remember the author identifying this person. His remains has been excavated in Kolyvan in an expedition led by Dr Jolïete Deneauve. This fellow will tell the story of his time with Jolïete from the moment she discovers him to the moment when his remains reach the British Museum. Through him, the reader gets to follow Jolïete’s tempestuous relationship with colleague and playboy Olivier Botton.
On one hand, this story is nicely written. The wordsmith is elegant and most pleasing. Call me weird but I can’t help imagining that the voice in my head as I am reading this book is that of James Earl Jones’ because for some reason his voice fits the personality of the narrator where I am concerned.
On the other hand, this story reminds me of those arty-farty French movies where there is often a pretension of Deep Meaning and Profound Symbolism taking place when all that is really happening, as far as plebian movie-goers can see, are people talking slowly and giving each other pointed looks meant to convey some kind of elusive profundity that only movie snobs will grasp while everyone else is just waiting for the actress to flash her boobs like you know they always do in French films. Jolïete is not the most interesting heroine that I have come across. In fact, I find her behavior towards Olivier rather confusing, given that she has a love-hate thing going on with him but at the same time she succumbs to his touch way too easily for me to buy fully the complexity of her feelings. It is as if the author is saying, “Yeah, yeah, she has mixed and conflicted feelings about the man, whatever, look folks, they are going to have sex now. Yeah baby!”
I find this book enjoyable to read because of the author’s prose, but I’m not sure if I buy the love story between Olivier and Jolïete. That part of the story is too much like a French art film, with more flashy allusions to substance rather than actual substance present. Perhaps Ms Gardner’s intention is to explore the myriad spectrum of emotions that Jolïete is feeling rather than the actual relationship between Jolïete and Olivier, but even then, the author doesn’t spend enough time on Jolïete and Olivier to make that work. The narrator and Jolïte have a more well-developed “relationship” here, given how much the narrator talks about how he feels or thinks about Jolïete as opposed of how Jolïete and Olivier feel about each other.
Therefore, I am rather confused by what the author is trying to tell me in Le Splendor De L’antiquite. I guess I will always wonder how this story will turn out to be if the narrator’s remains were discovered by a more interesting archeologist. Heck, I won’t mind if the narrator pulls a Casper, becomes human, and sweeps Jolïete off her feet. Who knows, that may actually turn out to be a more successful story.