A Far Strange Country

Banquet of Choices

Fiction - Drama
469 Pages
Reviewed on 05/12/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite

A Far Strange Country: Banquet of Choices by Arielle Hunter is a novel of unrest, drugs and murder. In this story set in 1968, a time of great unrest in the civilized world, Pauline and Buck Harper are trying to ride it out on their ranch. A telegram arrives, telling them that their son is in hospital following a drug overdose. On another corner, Donatello Dragghi is in California to get out of the line of fire of the Mafia. He receives a phone call, which sparks a whole chain of events, events that send him in a direction he would never have chosen. Add Parker to the mix, a man who stands accused of murder, and wait for them all to meet up, all drawn in by the actions of one man. One man, one drug-fuelled party, one unforgettable night. A night that has more questions than answers, but proves that for every action there must be a consequence.

A Far Strange Country: Banquet of Choices by Arielle Hunter is an excellent novel. I have to admit, I did judge the book by its cover and I didn’t think I would enjoy it. How wrong could I be? In a fantastic story, Ms Hunter has very cleverly woven a number of different tales together to meet in one explosive finish. And, what a finish. It’s a book that left me desperate to read the second one in the hopes that it is even better than this one. Ms Hunter knows how to write, that’s for sure, and she knows how to draw a reader in. Excellent work, bring on number 2!

Natasha Jackson

A Far Strange Country is a tale of another time. In 1968, drugs, free love and rock 'n' roll ruled the world, at least in this version of the world it does. We follow a colorful group of characters brought together by one single soul. We have a Vietnam veteran chasing the dragon to keep his demons at bay, an icon of the 1960s — the guru, worried parents, an immigrant with Mafia ties and many other personalities. Each of these characters has their own plot line that converges to unveil a much larger picture in this tumultuous time in history. What Arielle Hunter does so well in this story is dive right into it; so much so that the era itself is merely the backdrop for the stories told at the forefront. This story turns out to be as much of a wild ride as the decade itself.

I don’t expect author Arielle Hunter to reveal her age, but the way in which she wrote A Far Strange Country is so authentic without being stereotypical. There is so much happening within the story that it very easily could have become a mess, but the characters and the stories are the perfect ensemble this story needed to be told from all sides. My favorite part I have to say is Parker because I think she captured the essence of these guru-spiritual/cult leaders perfectly. The drug-fueled brainwashing, lavish parties and ruse of guidance is the perfect way to lure in unsuspecting lost souls such as Slovika and it just added more authenticity to a story filled with it. This trip to A Far Strange Country was a wild and emotional one, but totally worth the price of admission!

Faridah Nassozi

After messing with the wrong man's mistress, Donatello was forced to leave Europe where he was a big movie star. On reaching Hollywood, however, he discovered that he was a nobody, no one cared about his fame in Europe, this was Hollywood. He finds himself depressed and develops a series of self-destructive habits. Meanwhile somewhere else, two parents cannot stop worrying about their son, Steven, who went to war five years and has not been heard from since, until they receive a message telling them he had overdosed and was in hospital. On reaching the hospital, they find him paralysed and barely conscious, and discover that they are grandparents to a 3-year-old boy. Though still paralysed and unable to talk, Steven is declared stable enough to go home, but he will not go home without Shara, his 18-year-old girlfriend and mother of his son. His parents will only allow him to bring her along if they are married. Shara is confused and does not know whether to accept the proposal and get married or go away with her best friend.

A Far Strange Country - Banquet of Choices by Arielle Hunter tells a story of troubled souls trying to find purpose in life. Each of the characters has their own personal struggle, and irrespective of the causes of their pain, each finds it hard to make sense of their circumstances and figure out a way forward. Through these struggles, each character brings something unique to the plot as their lives are intertwined by the paths they have chosen. I especially found Shara and Donny very well portrayed and very memorable. A Far Strange Country - Banquet of Choices by Arielle Hunter takes you into a dark world wrecked by drugs and self-destruction.

Maria Beltran

It’s 1968 and very different lives come into the spotlight in Arielle Hunter’s debut novel, A Far Strange Country: Banquet of Choices. The novel opens with Pauline Hunter in the kitchen, missing her son who had gone to war five years prior, and her husband Buck from upstairs asking her to turn the radio up. In the background there's news of another landslide. Then they receive a telegram: their son Steve has overdosed on drugs and has been admitted to a San Francisco hospital. Meanwhile, on that same day, Italian actor and director Donatello Dragghi waits for a phone call at his suite. While he waits, we see his memories from three months ago. He has been sent away to live with his uncle to avoid more trouble with Caggiano, whose mistress Donatello had begun a relationship with back at home. Not only has he messed with Caggiano, he’s messed with the Mafia too. Then the phone rings, and this call sends Donatello into unexpected experiences.

With Arielle Hunter’s flowing narrative and beautiful writing style, she paints a very vivid picture of the lives of her characters who lived in the tumultuous '60s. It is rather cinematic; characters are introduced one after another, leaving readers wondering how such different people’s lives, and their struggles to come to terms with the changes happening all around them, cross the same path. And as we further get to know a host of other characters like Donatello’s wife Slovika, Steve’s teen girlfriend, cult leader and a murder suspect Parker, their lives come together at a crossroads. Beneath the backdrop of the excitement and danger of the time’s social and cultural changes, we also unravel the author’s amazing creative writing style. This book is the first in a two-book series, and the second installment is certainly worth waiting for. A Far Strange Country is one novel that is absolutely worth picking up.