Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Our Echoes Roll From Soul To Soul

Rosemary Clement-Moore's The Splendor Falls has all the things that appeals to Erin, but their relationship won't be going to the next level.

Our Echoes Roll From Soul To Soul

BOOK REPORT for The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Cover Story: Brown Bag It
BFF Charm: Meh
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: A Carpet-Bagger In Sheep's Clothing
Bonus Factor: Career-Ending Injuries, Southern Gothic
Relationship Status: My Kissin' Cousin

Cover Story: Brown Bag It

It's not that this cover is bad, per se. It would look awesome as the cover of the debut album from myfauth (that's faux-goth) band, My Mother's Blood. We are obviously a very hardcore band, dedicated to our craft of being pale imitations of Robert Smith and Ian Curtis. Our first album would be called The Graveyard Shift and would be a tour de force, clearly. And this cover would be brilliant for that.

As a book, however, no way. In fact, the only reason I bought this was because I was in the mall in Dubai and wanted something to read. I mean, I was pleasantly surprised; don't get me wrong. But still. No.

The Deal:

Sylvie Davies is a washed-up prima ballerina at the ripe ol' age of 17. During her very first performance as the principal ballerina at her New York company, she came down wrong and suffered a massive compound fracture in her leg. Bye bye, ballet career. And, uh, hello, hallucinations?

After a tiny little incident involving mixing vicodin and champers (which, honestly, could happen to anyone!), Sylvie's newly-remarried mother ships her off to spend the summer at her deceased father's family estate in Alabama. So now Sylvie has to contend not only with a busted leg and some kind of crazy hallucinations, but she also has to live with her Southern-with-a-capital-S cousin Paula, a jealous and angry model-gorgeous girl named Addie and the super hot and mysterious Welsh college student, Rhys, whose mysterious ways and biting tongue have Sylvie all a-flutter.

Oh, and the ghosts, of course. She has to live with the ghosts.

Can Sylvie figure out what Rhys is after? Or what local golden boy Shawn has up his sleeve? And is that damn ghost baby ever going to stop crying? Jeez, can't someone change his ghostly diaper or something?

BFF Charm: Meh

You know how sometimes you meet someone when you're out at an activity, or maybe at a party hosted by mutual friends? And you're like, "This person is totally cool! I love him/her!" And every time you see that person for the next few weeks or months, whatever, you think, "I can't wait to become better friends with this person!"

And then you do. You do become better friends with that person. And at first it is AWESOME! You go to the bar! You wander around Central Park drunk off your asses, hallucinating battle reenactments! When your friend comes over and is all, "I just don't know what to do! There are these two totally hot guys that bothseem to want to do it with me!", you're totally supportive, all, "Get it, girl!" And then your friend starts coming over every day. Or calling you every night. And she starts complaining about stuff that happened, like, six months ago, and it's not that you don't still love her, but you're also kind of like, "Maybe I should have kept this friendship at the drunken hallucination level, and not invited her over for Girly Night that one time. Cause she's kind of a drag."

You know? Well, if you don't know what that's like, you can read this book and you will soon learn.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Not for nothin', but studly smart Welsh guys are hot. Or I assume they would be, if one could look past all the sheep-schtupping. (Ha ha, that is a hilarious joke for the English people reading this post. Now, go back to your tea and your brooding about how your country is technically the lamest country in the United Kingdom. Barry Island 4 LYFE!)

Anyway, there's sexual tension a-plenty in this book with some nice actual base-running for good measure. Rhys, call me. I'll tangle in the moss with you anytime.

Talky Talk: A Carpet-Bagger In Sheep's Clothing

Sylvie, the poor dear, is a Yankee through and through. She is aghast at the idea of eating cobbler, y'all. COBBLER. Only the greatest fruit-based dessert OF ALL TIME.

But there's enough Southernisms laced through the book to soothe my fevered brow, and Clement-Moore thankfully never succumbs to the philosophy of making her Southern characters sound like inbred morons to be more "authentic." This is, after all, the land of Mark Twain, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Conner, Harper Lee and Truman Capote. We're pretty smart, is what I'm sayin'!

Dialect aside, Clement-Moore's prose is fresh and unpretentious, and even though the book drags at times, Sylvie's voice is authentic enough to minimize some of that pain.

Some.

Bonus Factor: Career-Ending Injuries

(that's so cold of me. Love ya, Six.)

I am a sucker for a career-ending injury storyline. I think it's easy for people to scoff when someone gets injured in a way that ends their career, all, "Well, that's why a college degree is so important!" And, yeah, a college degree IS important, but fitting in said degree with five or six hours of practice every day can be hard. People who are very good at some sort of physical activity (football, dance, etc) have to devote 80% of their waking hours to that activity, every day, to rise to the top of what can be a pretty challenging field of competitors. And the fact that all of that work can be for nothing in the blink of an eye . . . it's scary, and it's sad.

So while Sylvie may have banged on about her leg a bit much, from a reading point of view (I don't want to read the same thought over and over, no matter what that thought is. Even if it's, like, "Erin is the coolest and I want to be just like her." Actually, especially then, weirdos.), I totally felt her pain. Sometimes literally - I injured my foot nearly 20 years ago in ballet and it still hurts, every day.

Bonus Factor: Southern Gothic

I love me some Southern Gothic novels. It is probably, certeris paribus, my favorite genre of novels. There's just something about the crumbling old mansions, the abject poverty, the outwardly friendly but inwardly suspicious townspeople (not to mention the outwardly suspicious but inwardly kickass townspeople) and the Piggly Wiggly that make me feel at home. And there's something about the South that just lends itself to ghost stories - the dark history, the blood spilled, the dripping moss, the sticky heat.

Casting Call:

Hmm, a fierce ex-ballerina who may or may not be going crazy? Please.

Summer Glau as Sylvie

Michael Sheen as Rhys

Whatever, this is MY casting call, so if I'm going to cast a Welsh actor with whom I would like to experience sweet monkey love, I'm casting my boo, Michael.

Oh, okay.

Luke Evans as Rhys

Relationship Status: My Kissin' Cousin

I was first drawn to this book because of our shared history - it was about ballet! The Deep South! Hot Welsh people! I LOVE ALL OF THOSE THINGS! And this book and I had a lot in common at the root level. We totally hit it off at first and made plans to spend lots of time with each other at our Family Reunion.

But after hanging out with this book for a few days, I learned that there's some stuff aboutit that didn't really work for me, and I'm assuming it got that stuff from its other family. Like, why did it have to drag so long? What was up with the not-very-sinister ghost story? Why does it keep talking about its damn dog? I knew this book's mom never should have married that weird pedantic dude who can never tell jokes correctly!

All in all, this book and I had a good time at our family reunion, and maybe we stole a few kisses behind our grandpa's barn, but by the end of the week I was glad to be packing away my hideous tie-dyed Family Reunion shirt that my aunt forced me to wear and I bid a fond farewell to this book. I'll see it again sometime next year, and I won't miss it in the meantime.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
K