“If you construct a room in paint, you haunt it. Your life rests in every stroke. So paint only the rooms that you can bear to occupy forever. Or paint the stars instead.” Benjamin Wood, THE ECLIPTIC
On a forested island off the coast of Istanbul stands Portmantle, a gated refuge for beleaguered artists. There, a curious assembly of painters, architects, writers and musicians strive to restore their faded talents.
Elspeth ‘Knell’ Conroy is a celebrated painter who has lost faith in her ability and fled the dizzying art scene of 1960s London. On the island, she spends her nights locked in her blacked-out studio, testing a strange new pigment for her elusive masterpiece.
But when a disaffected teenager named Fullerton arrives at the refuge, he disrupts its established routines. He is plagued by a recurring nightmare that steers him into danger, and Knell is left to pick apart the chilling mystery. Where did the boy come from, what is ‘The Ecliptic’, and how does it relate to their abandoned lives in England?
When a star dies it swells to a shimmering mass, collapses in on itself, and eventually bursts outward. That is an apt metaphor for my brain while reading THE ECLIPTIC.
I hate to build up a book so much, but I must make an exception for this novel.
The characters: highly sympathetic and unique. You will want to spend time with them, will want to learn about their pasts, and will wish them well in their futures. If you are a creative person of any sort, read with a highlighter; you will find yourself nodding your head along with the descriptions of the processes, the cycles, the cost of the vocation. If you are not creative, you will be eager to unravel the psychology of what brought the artists to Portmantle, and how their lives are connected.
THE ECLIPTIC is a novel for book clubs. It requires thought and begs to be discussed. I suspect many will want to reread it once it’s finished, myself included. Full of insights, at times frightening, and artfully rendered, Wood has written a modern masterpiece destined to become a classic.
I should note that I was in a five-book reading slump before beginning THE ECLIPTIC, and I now have such a serious book hangover, I might need to take a break before I start anything new.
Here is a link to the book trailer. Are you intrigued? The novel releases on May 3rd.