I was hoping to stumble across something different that would take me outside of my comfort zone, which after much searching I eventually did. From its synopsis, ‘From Afar’ came across as being an untypical romantic novel. Generally I tend to go out my way to avoid romance novels – not because I’m unromantic or anything; a good handful of my favourite movies come from Bollywood. After all, it’s insanely hard not to fall in love with the likes of ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, ‘Rab Ne Bana di Jodi’ and ‘Hum Apke Hai Kaun’ (just to name a few) – What could possibly top a good choreographed song and dance alongside a few clichés that never fail to tug on your heart strings? Oh, I seem to have strayed off the topic at hand… Anywho, this book seemed like a way to tentatively step outside my comfort zone.
The protagonist, Morgan, throughout the book comes across as cynical, condescending and shallow. There’s a constant undertone of skepticism about the existence of love that develops to cynicism. I honestly think Morgan was a confused chap who did not understand or even know what he wanted, all the while having contradicting thoughts. But this was not even the worst part – not by a long shot. Morgan is clearly one of those characters that have the audacity to whine and complain about situations that are perpetuated by their own blend of ignorance and stupidity. Moreover, he sneered at people for having faith in certain things (i.e. believing that if you light a candle, and it burns all the way down without the flame going out, your wish will come true) but then went along and did those things – what an utter hypocrite. A character full of flaws that underwent next to none development and became what can be termed as ‘a stalker’.
After reading it, plot wise it felt like nothing of significance had actually happened despite the book being more than 200 pages in length. Upon his journey, hardly anything (if anything at all) of significance had occurred – the book felt empty in that respect.
From the synopsis, it seemed like Morgan would meet some varied characters along the way, which to be fair he did. However, these encounters were pointless and led to nothing. All the characters were bland, possessing perhaps a teaspoon worth of personality collectively. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) it would have been far more enjoyable to encounter a variety of different characters that perhaps bestowed some sort of knowledge upon Morgan or had some impact, which would naturally lead somewhere. With respect to secondary characters, the only redeeming aspect was the presence of Sergey and Edgar.
“… what a conundrum Russia is. It’s a myriad of paradoxes really. It’s war and it’s love…”
Speaking of redeeming qualities of the book, another one was that the vivid descriptions of Russia intermingled with the historic element. Culture was also lighted alluded to in part. In doing so, an emerging contrast between the West and the East could be clearly seen which was amazing. It gave the illusion of actually being there in Russia. Some of the lines penned had a nice quality to them even though they had been penned in a very simplistic manner. Regardless there were quite a few errors in terms of spelling and spacing. The writing overall could have been slightly better. The origins of the title ‘From Afar’ was delightful to read about and probably one of the best bits of the whole book.
In a nutshell, ironically, much like the dating/bridal sites featured in this story, what I was promised and what I received, were somewhat two different things. The story had a lot of potential that was far from fulfilled; the author could have done so much more with the plot and the characters.
From London, With Love (see what I did there 😉)