Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday Intro: Voltaire's Calligrapher by Pablo De Santis

Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where participants share the first paragraph (or a few) of a book they are reading or thinking about reading soon.

I arrived in this port with very few belongings: four shirts, my calligraphy implements, and a heart in a glass jar. The shirts were threadbare and ink-stained, my quills ruined by the sea air. The heart, however, was intact, indifferent to the voyage, the storms, the humidity. Hearts only wear out in life; after that, nothing can heart them.

Title: Voltaire's Calligrapher
Author: Pablo De SantisISBN: 9780061479885
Publisher: Harper Perennial/2010 (2001)
Pages: 149

Dalessius is a calligrapher, (Calligraphy is a dying art now). He painstakingly inscribes the legal orders of the dying aristocracy. Meanwhile the printing press is spreading fast. He gets to work for the renowned philosopher Voltaire, who sends Dalessius to Toulouse to investigate a murder trial where a father is accused of killing his son before he could convert to Catholicism. While searching their home, Dalessius finds evidences which prove that the son had suicidal tendencies. However, the bloodthirsty people demand his father’s execution. Feeling helpless to stop the execution, Dalessius turns to another intriguing mystery. The hearse that carried him to Toulouse also carried the body of beautiful young woman. She is alive and lives in a hidden house. Dalessius discovers that she is an automaton. He returns to Paris to searching for the maker of such a marvel. 

The prose reminded me of Umberto Eco. It is a dark, sinister mystery, not easy to read. But once one gets into it, one can't leave it. The journey of Dalessius is interesting which takes us "through the gates of sinister castles and to the doors of a bizarre bordello; toward life-and death confrontations with inventive henchmen, ingenious mechanical execution devices, poisonous fish, and murderous automatons."


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This sounds really interesting. I'd read k you for joining us.more. enjoy and than

Beth F said...

It does sound interesting!

Unknown said...

Sounds interesting. However, if it's difficult to read, I'm not if sure I would keep reading.

Paulita said...

This sounds deep. Enjoy! Here's Mine

Catherine @ Book Club Librarian said...

Sounds like an intriguing novel. I'd read on.

My post: http://www.bookclublibrarian.com/2014/04/first-chapter-first-paragraph-55.html

Literary Feline said...

I was hoping you would review this book today! It does sound good. I would keep reading!

Unknown said...

Something different and interesting. And not too long.

Tea said...

Written so beautifully.