By Andrew Davidson
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385524940, 480pp.)
Publication Date: August 5, 2008
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time
The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide—for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul.
A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life—and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne's care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete—and her time on earth will be finished.
Already an international literary sensation, the Gargoyle is an Inferno for our time. It will have you believing in the impossible.
ANDREW DAVIDSON was born in Pinawa, Manitoba, and graduated in 1995 from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in English literature. He has worked as a teacher in Japan, where he has lived on and off, and as a writer of English lessons for Japanese Web sites. The Gargoyle, the product of seven years' worth of research and composition, is his first book. Davidson lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
1. The Gargoyle begins with arguably one of the most stunning opening scenes in contemporary literature. How was the author able to make horrifying details alluring? What was your initial reaction to these images?
“Seductive…The free-range erudition of books like Possession and The Name of the Rose come to mind.”–Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Undeniably a hot book, one likely to ignite the passion of anyone who loves a mix of romance and the macabre.”–Washington Post Book Review
“Mr. Davidson skillfully assembles a centuries-old puzzle involving a series of fables of undying love…the reader is kept guessing until the final pages.”–The Wall Street Journal
“A story that sweeps you in…the real tragedy of this book is that it ends.”–The Daily News
“[A] powerful debut… Once launched into this intense tale of unconventional romance, few readers will want to put it down.” –Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Spellbinding…[a] deliriously ambitious debut novel.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“I was blown away by Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle. It reminded me of Life of Pi, with its unanswered (and unanswerable) contradictions. A hypnotic, horrifying, astonishing novel that manages, against all odds, to be redemptive."
—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
“The Gargoyle is purely and simply an amazement, a riot, a blast. It's hard to believe that this is Andrew Davidson's first novel: He barrels out of the chute with the narrative brio and confidence, not to mention the courage, of a seasoned master. This book plucks the reader off the ground and whirls her through the air until she shouts from sheer abandonment and joy. What a great, grand treat.”