Monday, February 02, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The nameless narrator of The Gargoyle is, on the surface, one of the "beautiful people," but beauty truly is only skin deep for this self-centered, cynical and unhappy man. So it is ironic that the very thing that defines him, his beautiful outer shell, is severely burned turning him into a "monster." He is determined to commit suicide and constructs an elaborate and fool-proof method to end a life that he believes has no meaning without his physical beauty.

Marianne Engel is a psychiatric patient who appears at the narrator's bedside. She claims that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. She is, like Scheherazade, a teller of tales and draws this devastated man into her stories of enduring love. Instead of saving her own life though, she saves the life of the narrator through her continuing tales.

Marianne is more than a storyteller though. She is a sculptor of gargoyles, or grotesques. Again, it is ironic that a man who has become a living grotesque, should fall in love with a woman who carves them from stone. Both living grotesque and stone grotesques are shaped through pain and suffering. While the narrator does indeed suffer through multiple physical "sculptings," what is more significant is the inner shaping of his heart, turning it from stone to a living thing overflowing with love.

I wanted to read this book quickly, but I forced myself to slow down and savor this beautiful novel. The Gargoyle is an unusual love story that captures the nature of true, lasting and redeeming love. Davidson weaves several tales of love within his own tale and creates what I think is a beautiful tapestry with unexpected connections. After reading The Gargoyle, I'm even more convinced that love really is something that endures beyond the life we know.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Note to other reviewers: If you've written a review for this book, please let me know by posting the permanent URL for your review in the comments. I'll be happy to add a link to your review with my post.

Also reviewed at:
Marj at Reading Adventures
Jackie at FarmLaneBooks
Margaret at BooksPlease
Chris at book-a-rama


  1. Another glowing review for this book! I hope my expectations aren't too high but I'm looking forward to reading this sometime this year.

  2. I really enjoyed this book when I read it at the end of last year. So unusual compared to the other books that are around.

    My review is here

  3. tanabata: I hope you like it as much as I did. I will, at some time, be re-reading Dante's Inferno and then re-reading The Gargoyle. It can certainly be enjoyed without having read Inferno, but I think the read would be so much richer and the layers would probably reveal themselves even more.

    Marj: It is an unusal book, isn't it? I added a link here to your great review.

  4. I did enjoy reading this book. My review is here:
    Some sections were amazing, but I did think that some of the historical sections were pretty average, and a bit drawn out. Overall, I still recommend it, as a great, unusual read.

  5. Found you on Saturday Review of Books - this is a book I really want to read. Thanks for the review!

  6. Wow. That sounds like an amazing story...

    I may have to start a list since I've sworn to stop buying books until my TBR pile is cut in half...


  7. farmlanebooks: Thanks for visiting. I enjoyed reading your review!

    S. Krishna: I love visiting Saturday Review of Books. Glad you stopped by and I hope you do read the book!

    cj: I keep trying to reduce my TBR pile too. I've probably only been successful at maintaining the number of books in it though!