Book Review: The Moonlit Garden

By Douglas Soule on March 14, 2016 from Book Review via

I’ve never lost a spouse, as main character Lilly Kaiser did three years prior to the start of The Moonlit Garden. Yet, I imagine I have a
  good grasp of the anguish after having to sludge through this story.
When a book begins with the description of a character’s reflection, it is not a very positive indication towards the rest of the text. Especially when it goes, “Helen Carter gazed in bewilderment at her reflection in the mirror.” Do you ever look into a mirror and internally describe your appearance? I hope not. So for a character to do so is unrealistic and not to mention cliché in the literary world. While I know that one shouldn’t judge a book by its first sentence, I couldn’t help but gaze into the page in bewilderment, wondering if I had accidently purchased something from the self-published section.
The plot itself could have been intriguing. Lilly Kaiser owns an antiques store in Berlin. One day, an old man shows up bearing a violin, claiming that the violin belongs to her. To add to the mystery, he then rushed out, disappearing as quickly as a donut in my possession. And yes, I’m certain that Lilly gazed at the instrument in bewilderment following this encounter. A search for the instrumental truth commenced, leading across continents, stretching the bounds of my attention span. Why is this such a “treble” to get through? I often thought while reading
There are two other character perspectives in The Moonlit Garden (one of which is bewilderment-gazer Helen Carter). I even half-enjoyed one of them! There are also a plethora of other characters that help Lilly uncover the mystery of the violin. In every section, when Lilly came across a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, there is always a male character, coincidentally met, that would save the day. These helpers dropped everything to assist her, and while they were useful to the plot, they also degenerate the entertainment value by not allowing the main character solve the issues on her own.
Plot, characters, and setting aside, the writing in itself is wretched, a deformity that is acid to the eyes (had it really been acid it would have been a mercy, blinding me from the text). There is more passive voice in this book than there is money in politics! The dialogue in itself is more flawed than a first-generation iPhone. Conversations are mechanical, sounding more similar to two foreign exchange students practicing English than communication between intelligent individuals.  A large part of this is due to the fact that The Moonlit Garden is (poorly) translated from German. While I can’t be a judge of the original, German work, I can attest that the English version should be re-translated into an actually comprehensible novel.
I didn’t dislike everything about this story. I found myself immersed on multiple occasions, yet all the angrier when I got torn out my literary adventure by a section that made me cringe as if listening to a group of people drag their fingernails across a chalk board. While I won’t not recommend reading The Moonlit Garden, I would advise to rather read a better-written romance piece, such as Twilight.

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