Book Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

6/15/2017



Look at the cover, just look at it! That stunning cover hints to the intricate beauty that lies inside. Being new to magical realism and having heard mixed reviews, I was hesitant to start this book. Especially as my first encounter with magical realism was very disappointing. Bad first impressions can make you hesitant to explore a genre more. It’s very lucky that I finally read this book though, as I loved it!    

Rarely do I ever finish a book and tell myself, “Mark my words, I will read this again.” I am not a re-reader, yet here I am restraining myself from picking The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender up and overanalysing every last detail. I need to know these characters more! What does it mean? How do certain events connect to others? Have I missed a hidden meaning in the text? I must know! Most of my 5 star books are ones that last a long time after I’ve read them, this does just that.

The book starts with a prologue describing the birth of lovely Ava, a girl somehow born with brown speckled bird wings. It then goes on to describe the events that occurred to her family. We learn about many different strange characters, and end up knowing all about the family and the tragedies that follow them. At first this switch to informing about the older family threw me off, but it didn’t take me too long to get accustomed to it. I found myself emotionally invested in all of the characters, no matter how briefly described or how much I hadn’t expected them to be mentioned.

There are indeed many characters in this book. Every character has a strange, whimsical quirk, it was fascinating! There are many things I wish I could discuss yet cannot due to fear of causing spoilers. I don’t want to spoil it for you guys, especially as I’d love you to read it! I had a particular connection to Ava’s mother, Vivienne, finding myself moved by her part of the story. Every female in the Lavender family have a tragic history of romance, some phenomenon which is left open to interpretation.

Walton writes with a lot of descriptive words and metaphors, there are so many different bakery terms. I felt so hungry after reading. It’s rare nowadays to find a book that’s both descriptive and easily accessible! Books like that have the classic vibe with the advantage of being somehow effortless to read. There’s definitely something much more appealing about reading a book set in a time different to our own. I never realised the 1950’s interested me as much as it did until I read this book. Walton portrayed the time setting fantastically, not to mention that it fit in perfectly with the story.

Romance has always been a passion of mine, yet recently I have found that passion dwindle. Books that previously would’ve melted my heart now leave me stone cold and skeptical. Send in The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender to save the day. Since growing older I have found that I prefer books that give a more realistic take on romance. This book does just that, as it shows the power of love in a variety of forms; from friendship, maternal to romantic love. There’s a bit of everything in this book, you can’t go wrong! Love is truly a powerful emotion.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender kept me guessing until the end. It’s full of symbolism and small nuances that hint to outcomes, or explanations of certain occurrences. A lot of questions are purposefully left unanswered, it screams at you to contemplate them, to work out the reasons why. For my second magical realism, I was very much impressed. It’s set a standard for the rest of the year, now I’ve somehow got to find another fantasy that I love just as much.

If you haven’t read this wonderful book then I implore you, read it! Even if you don’t enjoy it, I’d love to discuss it! This book will stay with me for a long time, I’m sure it’ll make a few appearances on this blog in the next few months. Now we’ll just wait and see how long it takes to read it again!


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7 comments

  1. Thanks for the lovely review! Love the photo. :) When I hear glowing reviews about books I haven't read yet it makes me nervous, like "Aw, great... thanks for upping my expectations!" Um. But it really does sound amazing, and I completely understand what you mean when you get that urge to just re-read a book right away so you can analyse everything and pick it apart.

    Cass @ Words on Paper

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm the same, I tend to avoid reviews until after I've finished the book. Luckily for me, I'd heard mixed reviews about Ava Lavender, so I didn't have high expectations when I went into it. There are definitely books that have been disappointing because they're not how I imagined, which sucks! A booktuber I liked didn't like it, so it just shows that it's all down to personal preference. 🙂 It's great to get that re-read feeling isn't it. 😊

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  2. I love it when a book stays with me like that, and makes me want to dive back in and reexamine the foreshadoing or character moments. This one sounds great actually, glad it was an awesome read. Nice that the romance was done well, and I don't think I've read a book set in the 50's. All in all this sounds really good!

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    1. It's a great experience isn't it! Especially when it's rare, it makes it that little bit more special. It was wonderful! A little dark at points too which I liked! If you read it let me know 😊

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  3. Oh I remember adoring the bakery parts of this one! Although I read it sooo long ago I don't remember much eeep. My bad. XD So so glad you loved it though! I do have a soft spot for magical realism. It can be so whimsical and enchanting, right?!

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    1. The bakery bits were lovely weren't they! I loved how they named all the different pastries and the smells. Read it again! 😜 It's only my second magical realism but it was lovely! Films like The Age of Adeline and About Time entrance me though, so it's no wonder that I'd love this genre. It definitely is whimsical, and feels real at some points too! Must find more!! 😍

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  4. I've heard nothing but great things about this book, so I am so glad you enjoyed it so much as well! It sounds like such an eloquent and beautifully written story. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

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