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Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite
What would you choose between a quiet private life and a public life that can be very rewarding but also risky? I think that we have asked ourselves this question at least once in our lives. Richard Robbins asks his readers the same question in his novel, Panicles. This amazing book tells the story of the Murnanes, a wealthy family with serious political ambitions, and of the Wax family, which finds prosperity thanks to an unexpected legacy. Scandals and questionable political actions surround the characters. Good ideas turn out to have negative consequences, while morally reprehensible actions can have positive results. What is the price to pay?
Panicles is a novel that invites reflection with its subtle and significant meaning. The characters have serious decisions to make, and often they are not blameless. Robbins does not openly condemn disputable deeds, but he rather aims at showing how difficult it is to make the right choices. He does not prevent further discussion by giving a definitive answer, but he presents the facts and lets the reader decide what is good and what is not. Panicles is not just about politics, however. Family is also an important topic, and Robbins develops this theme with remarkable skill. In a delightful scene at the beginning, Little Emily, the Murnanes’ daughter, cries because the flowers are dead. This scene comes to the reader's mind later when she explains what Panicles are, and her explanation adds a deeper meaning to the story. Connections, effects, and a great storyline make Panicles a remarkable novel from many points of view.