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Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
In The Reading by Barbara Monier, we meet Esme, an established writer in her early sixties. Her lover Gino has asked her to live with him but she is reluctant to disrupt her carefully constructed cocoon. She subsequently suffers from writer’s block. As she performs a reading from her latest book, she’s approached by a stranger during the book signing. Tom Killarney is no stranger after all since they met years ago when they were freshmen at an Ivy League school she hated. This brings back memories of what Esme considers the worst year of her life. The visit further triggers detailed memories of her life including old grief, past loves, a psychic’s prophecy, and the tragedy of the Covid pandemic. Read on as Esme assembles the pieces of her life as she takes stock of the present.
Barbara Monier’s The Reading is a compelling novel about a woman who reclaims her courage to live life to the fullest. Beautifully written, the author is especially proficient in conveying the emotions of Esme, the main protagonist. At times poignant and at times amusing, the novel is written like a memoir. Esme is a very interesting and fully-developed character. One can see her evolution from an awkward adolescent to a wise and sympathetic adult. The setting alternates between the early 70s and the present time as she tries to decide about her future. Barbara Monier’s writing style is emotive and compelling. This book will encourage readers to examine their own values as the author superbly examines Esme’s past to allow her to understand the truth that explains her present. Highly recommended!