Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Review of 'The Wonder Singer' by George Rabasa

"For the past few months, Mark Lockwood has been at work on a ghostwriting assignment beyond his dreams.  To prepare her autobiography, he has been interviewing the internationally renowned diva Mercè Casals.  When the Señora dies unexpectedly in her elegant scented bath, she suddenly becomes a hot property and a celebrity biographer arrives to take the project over.  To save his own future, Lockwood steals the tapes, liberates the Señora's aging husband, and sets out to write the Diva's story on the run.

The Wonder Singer is an operatic literary caper about one grandly beautiful life and one young writer's manic attempt to expand his world by capturing it."

It's a very intriguing novel.  For me, this was just about the diva Mercè Casals rather than Mercè Casals and the other characters involved.  I was interested in Lockwood's personal story up until the end when everything started working out and there was no danger any more.

For the first three quarters of Lockwood's story, it was really interesting because he was interviewing this retired opera star when she dies in the classiest and most awkward places ever-- her very own bathtub.  All of a sudden, the diva becomes this hot piece of real estate for ghost writers everywhere, especially for Lockwood, who had begun this process long before her death, and for Lockwood's rival, Mr. Baylor.  Lockwood has to go into hiding in order to write this book around the clock.  That's what I found most exciting about Lockwood's story.  But after the book was finished, it felt like there was no reason for the book to continue.  After the manuscript is submitted, we are left to catch up with Lockwood and his crumbling marriage.  But there is one huge problem that relates to why I had trouble staying interested in Lockwood's story at the end:

The characters weren't nearly developed enough.

Readers don't have nearly enough time to spend with Lockwood, Perla, Claire, Nolan, etc.  We know who they are as far as characterization goes, but it's difficult to tell who they are as people.  What makes them tick?  What would devastate these characters the most?  What shaped them into the characters that we read about in this book?  I couldn't tell you.

My favorite parts were the excerpts of Mercè Casals' biography.  These were absolutely the most developed parts of the book.  I felt that I really knew who this character was.  I knew where she came from and how she became the character I was reading about.  She was the most three dimensional character of them all.

Another thing that I really like is the cover.  It's just so beautiful.  Simple, yes, but beautiful.

I would recommend this book to anyone who does not mind underdeveloped characters and who enjoys music and Spanish culture.  I give 'The Wonder Singer':
Thanks for Reading!


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