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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Saturday Book Blog

Lisa Is Haunted by THE MERCY OF THIN AIR

Dear Friends,
One of the perils of being a professional writer is that you have a hard time losing yourself in a story. You find yourself examining the technical aspects of the writing, figuring out why it’s working or not working, and you often lose that emotional involvement that makes reading a novel so gratifying.

Only a masterful storyteller has the power to bring back that magic to someone in the business of writing.

Three days after finishing Ronlyn Domingue’s “The Mercy Of Thin Air,” I am still putting my heart back together after it was delicately disassembled into 271 pieces, which happens to be the page count of this astonishing first novel.

I have to confess, I’m not much on ghost stories. The plots often seem contrived and too complicated. And the author’s explanations of the world beyond the veil often ring false to me, since they are all a matter of guess-work. But this novel is powered by an amazing story of love and loss that made me cry on the plane, until I’m certain everyone was wondering what was the matter with the woman sitting in 7B.

The basic set-up is this : a beautiful young woman named Raziela, is deeply in love with Andrew in the 1920s, and she dies tragically before they get married. As another character in the book says, the rest of Andrew’s life revolves around the moment he loses Raziela, who drowned in the swimming pool.

For the next seventy years, Raziela exists in the world “between,” gently haunting the friends and loved ones who knew her. She tries to find out what became of Andrew, who seems to have disappeared. At the same time, Raziela meddles to reunite a pair of modern-day lovers, Amy and Scott, who turn out to have a surprising connection to her own past.

It is the relationship between Raziela and Andrew, however, that drives this story like a arrow into your heart. Razi is a strong, independent woman ahead of her time, and Andrew is the only man capable of understanding her. Their moments together are exquisite. And painful, because they capture the exquisite fragility of human life, and the terrible longing we feel for a loved one who is gone forever.

One love scene, in particular, nearly caused me to drop the book. I’ve never read anything like it--and I marveled at the skill and emotional honesty of an author who could elicit such a visceral reaction from me. I thought I had seen it all--but I hadn’t, and I was shocked and moved by Ronlyn Domingue’s vision.

It took four years for Domingue to write “The Mercy Of Thin Air,” and I can see why. It’s a work of art, and more importantly, a work of love.

Anyone else who has read “The Mercy Of Thin Air,” please don’t hesitate to comment. And if you’ve read any ghostly love stories that you’ve really enjoyed, whether their flavor is comic, suspenseful or emotionally moving, please tell us about them! Now I’m in the mood to read another one, and I would love some suggestions.
Teresa Medeiros, 9:05 AM