Let me start by saying that I liked this book a lot. However, due to the nature of our review site, it only merits three stars (more below). If you are looking for a quick, entertaining read, I recommend picking up a copy of Crimson Clouds. This book was featured in our last book poll, as well as one or two polls on Book Club Reading List. Unfortunately, it never won. I chalk the losses up to a lack of marketing on the author’s part. Nonetheless, I think readers will like this book.
You might wonder why I’m recommending a three star novel. I have provided two different ratings for this book, three stars on Travel Novels, and four stars on Amazon. For Travel Novels, we look at how well the author has placed the reader into the setting. If I pack this book for my trip to Paris, will I be able to taste the croissants before I arrive? Does the author paint a cafe scene that leaves me wanting to sit for hours watching lovers pass as I absorb the local energy? Does the book offer the reader a few useful customs, local dishes, or phrases to help me get by? Will I learn some history behind the main tourist destinations? You get the picture. Crimson Clouds didn’t do any of that for me, and that’s alright.Why should you read Crimson Clouds? The author has a real talent for bringing the characters to life. She combines the right amount of dialog, thoughts and context to pull you into the story of Robert and Kay, a married couple who are living miles apart in age, culture, and their tastes in art. These differences lead to many laughs for the reader. The struggles these two face can be easily related to by couples who have gone through their own growing pains.
Robert, a Frenchman in his sixties, has recently retired from his senior post at the United Nations. As he explores his new life, he reconnects with an old passion, painting. This becomes a point of contention with Kay, an “all business” type of woman in her early forties who owns a Contemporary Art gallery in NYC. As her career is gaining momentum, she can’t seem to get out of her own way to appreciate Robert, his views on art, and the changes taking place in his life.
The story flows quickly with a few twists that I didn’t see coming. The various points of view are well executed in this novel. The author does a good job of clearly delineating the characters’ voices and development. Readers will learn a bit about the art world, as well as life inside the U.N.
As previously mentioned, this book will receive a four-star rating on Amazon. The following issues prevented me from awarded it five stars for the general reader (i.e. non-traveler):
- Typos – There were several typos (10+). The story reads quickly enough that readers won’t notice.
- Non-native Speaker – During the first half of the book, a few sentences stuck out as those likely constructed by a non-native speaker. I refrained from checking on the author’s origin until the end. Sure enough, she was born to Belgian parents in Belgium, and had only lived in the U.S. for thirteen years. Her ability to write in English would be impressive for a native speaker … making her writing even more impressive as a non-native.
- Transitions – Several scenes transition a little too quickly. One example is when Robert’s mother comes to visit. The story moves from the discussion of her visit in one sentence to her arrival in the next. Then, as fast as she arrived, she departs.
- Ending – The book ended a little abruptly. It seems certain characters made discoveries about themselves by the end, but it’s not clearly fleshed out for the reader.
Crimson Clouds is a fast-paced, entertaining read full of enjoyable and authentic writing. While it will help pass any downtime along your journey, it’s not going to turn your trip into an adventure. For this reason, along with the items mentioned above, I am awarding this book three beach umbrellas as a travel novel.
As I read each book, I highlight typos and other issues that the author may want to consider changing. After I publish my review, and only after I publish my review, I offer the author a list of these highlights for a fee. My review is not influenced by the authors purchase, and does not change whether or not the author purchases the list. In this case, the author has purchased the list of typos and confirms that she has made the corrections laid out in the spreadsheet. This should provide readers with a more enjoyable experience when reading Crimson Clouds.