It’s eternally cold, wet and miserable in uptown Montreal where a ‘bereaved and lust-tormented narrator reconstructs his relations with the dead.’
While my quotation comes from the rear cover blurb for Leonard Cohen’s 1966 novel Beautiful Losers, it could serve also as the epigraph for Echo from Mount Royal ,** a story that captures in barely 190 pages all the repressive hypocrisies of the city and period in which the famed Canadian minstrel grew up. No wonder he fled to Hydra!
Joking apart, the new story is by first-time novelist Dave Riese who is not Jewish but relates with sympathetic relish the doomed romance of a gorgeous wealthy Jewish boy who’s forced to ditch his sassy, sparky girlfriend simply because she’s from the wrong side of the social, religious and financial tracks.
Riese says he’s a ‘compulsive’ writer. I believe him! Only a genuine wordsmith takes a nugget of truth as told by a friend and transforms it into a riveting page-turner, as he has, strongly supported by resolute research, revision and something much more than flair.
The story’s not perfect. Some characters and plotting devices are weak and a few references to Jewish practice and 1950s Israel don’t ring one hundred per cent true despite the author’s painstaking care. But I won’t cavil. It had been a long time since I’d read a ‘true romance’ and I loved every
line. Well done!
** Echo from Mount Royal is available from Amazon on Kindle @ $0.99 and in paperback @ $16.95.
© Natalie Wood (02 March 2017)