Yann Martel wrote Life of Pi nearly nine years ago, and I thought it was such an amazing story. It was part fantasy, part adventure tale, but the story was actually based in part, on the life of the authors' childhood friend from India. Since I loved that audio book so much, I decided to wait for the audio of Beatrice and Virgil as well, even though I had received a review copy a few month's ago. I am glad I waited, as Martel's stories are meant to be listened to....the reader, Mark Bramhall was just awesome.
The central character in this novel is Henry, an acclaimed writer. His most recent submission is two stories on the same subject, the Holocaust, but all in one book. Picture two identical front and back covers; read one version (fiction), flip the book over and read the other version (non fiction). When his book is rejected by his publisher,Henry decides to stop writing, move, and begin a new phase in his life.
After Henry and his wife move, he receives a strange piece of fan mail, which include a short story by Flaubert. The mail comes from a man, also named Henry, asking for Henry #1's help in writing a play with twenty-one animals. The main animal characters are, Beatrice, a donkey and Virgil a howler monkey. Of course Henry #1 is curious and he tracks down the letter writer at his shop. Henry #2 is a taxidermist, and he sees his vocation as "not to kill but to preserve and bear witness".
As Henry the taxidermist, begins to read parts of his play the meat of this novel unfolds in a shocking way. There is so much more I would love to write, but it could easily lead to potential spoilers.
Let me just say that although the beginning of this novel seemed slightly disjointed to me, the story was brilliant. Much like Martel's his last book Beatrice and Virgil, was very descriptive, captivating and truly imaginative. The story was both insightful and at the same time shocking. It's a story that still haunts me. It is one story that will leave many readers with plenty to think about. While the story fully held my interest and kept me curious until the very end, it also left me feeling sadder than I ever expected to feel when I came to the end. Not sad, that the story was over, but sad by how it ended. Those of you who read or listened to the book will know what I am referring to. "Games for Gustav, 1-13", made my heart sink and my jaw drop. Despite the ending, I am still very happy I decided to read this book. It's a short book, but one like, Life of Pi, that will resonate for a long while. RECOMMENDED - 4.5/5 stars.
(Review based on Library audio book and Review Copy)