Whispering Tides by Guido Mattioni

Whispering TidesA Shimmering Love Story, A Contemporary Divine Comedy

 WHISPERING TIDES by Guido Mattioni, trans., William Marino and Daniela Zoppini, is a shining love story, one that gripped me from its opening pages. I read it straight through from cover to cover, mulled over my notes, skipped back and forth, re-read the highlights. Surprised and delighted in equal measure by its ending, I continue to ponder the meaning of the story and am loathe to leave the experience of this wonderful book.

Although it is the chronicle of one man’s grief, WHISPERING TIDES is the story of a humanist and his love for his friends and the south, for the bright mystery of animals, for the unique vision of characters with unfettered souls, for the locals who live in and around Savannah, Georgia.

Dante might say that Alberto Landi, the main character of WHISPERING TIDES, is in the middle of life’s journey and lost in a dark wood. Fifty years old, leading a successful life in Milan and surrounded by the trappings of wealth and glitterati, Alberto suddenly loses the love of his life, Nina, his wife of twenty-three years. His world crashes; he is lost without her. His grief is so deep that he journeys in body, mind and dreams across the globe to Savannah, Georgia, where once he knew happiness. He is in search of the rebirth that the new world and, especially, the southern sentiment and way of life, seem to offer. He stays at the home of a friend where he and his wife had enjoyed happier times. He revisits places and people he loves, commenting on and sharing their uniqueness. Vowing to rebuild his life there, he renounces his former work and possessions. Stripped clean of his old ways, he slowly, painstakingly begins his reawakening. To be more specific would give away the story.

Alberto has a love of Savannah, its history, its people, its animals. Local characters abound. Many are humorous; all are unforgettable. Perhaps my favorite is the statue of James Edward Oglethorpe:

He appeared to be looking South with his right hand softly resting on the hilt of his sword as if to caress it, while his left hand was planted on his side in a posture halfway between that of martial vigilance and male dare. He seemed to be looking towards the Florida border and pondering the fact that there he had tried many times to spot the glittering helmets of Spanish bullies who were greedy for conquest and carrying unmentionable diseases.

The novel is the journey of one man’s dark night of the soul. It is for all of us, a poignant evocation of grief, but it is also a deep affirmation of life. Guido Mattioni’s gift of storytelling is large. His spirit is exuberant. He has the eyes of a humanist and the soul of a poet. I recommend WHISPERING TIDES to all readers who enjoy a good story, but search for meaning in between the words, to those who want to come away from a great read with an even greater understanding of what it means to be human.

WHISPERING TIDES is available in ebook and paperback, in the original Italian and in English translation.

My Rating: 5 Stars


ISBN: 978-1469934815


Riveting Mystery, Shining Prose

The Sunset WitnessTHE SUNSET WITNESS by Gayle Hayes

There is something cleansing about THE SUNSET WITNESS. I think it’s the prose of its author, Gayle Hayes. Except for a few breathtakingly speedy scenes where the pace is fevered and the style is clipped, the story is told in short, simple sentences, subject followed by predicate. Its style is transparent, shining. Conflict, sense of place, the emotions of Rachel, the main character, and the telling details of her life are conveyed as if by magic, almost in between the words. The story unfolds bit by bit; the mystery deepens; the tension rises.

I was hooked from the opening line. I cared what happened to Rachel and her friends and found the book hard to put down. It’s a damn good mystery, one that leaves room in the end for reader interpretation. On another level, the book is about dislocation, deception, dysfunction.

The second novel by Ms. Hayes, THE SUNSET WITNESS, concerns the disappearance of Rachel Douglas who has left behind a document chronicling the recent events of her life in Sunset, Oregon. It includes just enough of her past to breathe life into her character. All events in the story occur between May 31 and June 16, 2011, the day Rachel went missing.

At the start of the story, Rachel has quit her law practice in order to fulfill her dream of writing. She sublets the beach house of her friend, Sarah, taking over Sarah’s waitressing job. There are scenes with fellow workers, improbable friends, handsome lovers, strange-looking beachy-type characters, fearful occurrences that go bump in the night, and underworld connections.

The author uses Rachel’s choice of friends and her waitressing job to flesh out her character. The reader learns that Rachel must be on time for her job, that her appearance is important, as is her organization. Above all, the customers are important to her and her description of them I found endearing. My favorite was the middle-aged woman who

wore a long, red gingham dress with puff sleeves and a flared skirt, western boots, and a wide-brimmed straw hat. Unlike so many single diners, she did not read a book while she ate. She did not even seem to notice the ocean. When I looked her way, her eyes would be closed as she held each morsel in her mouth, chewed slowly, and swallowed. Watching her eat was like watching someone pray before a shrine.

Before the story ends, events take a more sinister turn, behavior become macabre, and part of the story’s resolution is left to the reader’s imagination. In short, THE SUNSET WITNESS is a gem of a story, a gripping mystery not to be missed, and I highly recommend it. On the strength of the book, I purchased the author’s earlier work.

My Rating: 5 Stars

About the Author: Gayle (Evankovich) Hayes was bitten by the writing bug while a student at Sacred Heart Grade School when she won the American Legion award for her essay on the American Flag. Gayle went on to major in English and graduate from Montana State University at Bozeman. Her flirtation with words developed into a love of the language and its possibilities while at the university. She published one poem, Pyrogenic Meditation. Several years later, she wrote a humorous column, A Piece of My Mind, for the Montana Standard, her hometown newspaper. Then Gayle took a shot at screenwriting before putting her typewriter away. She enrolled at the University of Montana College of Technology in Missoula, Montana at age 54 to become a paralegal and discovered the creative embers were still alive when she wrote essays for Comp 101. Gayle graduated with high honors and went to work for the Missoula County Attorney in the Criminal Division. When she retired in 2009, it had again been several years since she wrote creatively. Then one day, she realized she had waited long enough for an idea worthy of a novel. Gayle sat at the computer determined to write something or give up on the Dream once and for all. The characters came to life and would not let her rest until she told their story. The result is her first novel, SUMMER SOLSTICE.

ASIN: B00724WIC0

Not Your Mother’s Love Story

Rabbit in the RoadHold it. This is NOT you mother’s boy-meets-girl book.

RABBIT IN THE ROAD is the amazing, genre-straddling debut by Oliver Campbell and Danika D. Potts. Is it literary horror? Psychological Thriller? Paranormal Mystery? The book is all of these, a spellbinding psychedelic trip, a shimmering novella with a shattering voice. It deals with love and hate between two not so normal shape-shifters. It is violent. It is tender. It’s about running from and, at the same time, running toward. It’s about bliss and the dark night of the soul. It’s about all that is in us.

But it is Bevie’s story. In 1966 a record store clerk meets Ray, the man of her dreams on a train. She takes him home. “Ray gave me a brief hug. It made fireworks go off behind my eyes.”

And the girl experiences for the first time what she calls “the gleam,” something akin to a paranormal power or the might derived from a drug-induced trip.

“I wanted to slap my hand into his, quest along the gleam with him, to feel that deep connection. I wanted to hear it in my bones, truth or lie, souls met or falling away.”

Ray knows her, she avows, as if they had been together since before the world turned. She, the shape-shifting Bevie, experiences obsessive bliss, and through her story so exquisitely told, so do we.

If it is about fatal attraction, RABBIT IN THE ROAD is also about escape, and the character we first know as Bevie morphs into others, wanders, quests for purification, seeks to quench her hunger for she knows not what. Along the way she meets various shaman-like figures. Shurlock John is one of my favorites (“A coyote ain’t a dog, wont never be a dog …”) He’s the character that gives Bevie the moniker, “Rabbit in the Road.”

Does she find peace? What happens to Ray? You’ll have to read the book and I highly recommend that you do. A word of caution: there is violence. But it is a book to be savored.

My Rating: 5 Stars