Sometimes I come upon certain authors and I just know they have an exceptional talent. Brunkhorst is one of those authors, she has a certain je ne sais quoi.
I was really surprised when I read the word internet about half a chapter in, I was certain the scene was set somewhere between 1920 and 1950. The golden age of movies and film stars. It has a specific feel to it. Very Gatsby meets Hollywood.
Thomas finds his destiny inexplicably linked to and determined by Lily. She becomes not only a source, but also the door into a completely new world for Thomas. The world of the rich, the famous and the powerful. The people who pull the strings in town.
It is never made quite clear in the book, whether Lily has a hidden agenda. Did she know what would happen? Was it her wish to see the golden bird freed from her gilded cage? Is Thomas merely the patsy or can Lily see something in him that is special enough to make her want to support him.
Thomas finds this new world fascinating, despite being on the boundary of it, and he craves more of it and time with his new acquaintances. This new world leads him to Matilda.
Matilda is an enigma, a young girl trapped in a time warp. She is kept hidden from the world like Rapunzel in a tower awaiting her prince. When he meets Matilda, Thomas forgets about his new connections and everything pales in comparison. No threat of failure, destruction or fall from grace can keep him away from the mysterious and innocent young woman. He is beguiled to the point of not being able to think straight.
What happens next is the inevitability of life, of reality and of fairy-tales stripped of their mysticism.
Brunkhorst is definitely an author to watch. I think it is safe to say this won’t be the last we hear from her. She is an exquisite writer with the very rare talent of surrounding a story with an aura of a specific era. So much so that it never really leaves you as a reader, this feeling of being inside a story within a story. Watching and listening to something unfold in one era whilst being convinced it is taking place in another.
Thank you to MIRA UK and Harlequin UK for my copy of The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine.