Friday, December 13, 2013

The Love of a Child

It’s always exciting to see a book launch. That’s especially true when the book is one’s own, but watching a fellow writer’s book grow from concept to completion is equally satisfying. So I take a special pleasure in announcing the e-book release of Seeking Sophia, by my friend and writing group member Ariadne Apostolou. The print version has been available since the summer. You can find links to all current formats at the Five Directions Press site.

Seeking Sophia, for those who haven’t encountered it yet, tells the story of Kleio Platon—a former radical feminist and urban commune member who when the story opens seems to have it all. She lives in New York, she works for the United Nations, she travels the world, she has a hot boyfriend who jets in from Buenos Aires or Paris to sweep her off her feet at regular intervals (but not so regular that they get on each other’s nerves). Yes, the boyfriend is commitment-phobic—distressing given that Kleio’s biological clock is ticking—but Kleio herself sees certain advantages to their intermittent relationship. And at least she has escaped the over-regulated world of her childhood, with its assumption that she could want nothing more from life than to keep house for some man.

This is a novel, so by the end of chapter 1, Kleio’s happy bubble has burst. She discovers her boyfriend is two-timing her with men, she receives a diagnosis of metastatic cancer, and her dream job goes to someone else. The cancer surgery stops her biological clock dead, shattering her dreams of motherhood. Just as Kleio reaches her nadir, her friend Mal from commune days invites her to go on a vacation to Greece, the home of Kleio’s grandparents. There, at the sacred spring of Aria, Kleio glimpses the possibility of a different future, one that will be uniquely her own.

Kleio doesn’t have a plan, exactly, but she has a guide: the motto from a fortune cookie. “Plant a tree. Write a book. Build a house. Raise a child”—attributed to Confucius and many others throughout the centuries. Her path leads her into the thicket of international adoption, a world that does not embrace single mothers of a certain age. But Kleio once fought nuclear-power plants. She is not the kind of woman to tolerate outdated prejudices that stand in the way of her achieving her goals. She is searching for Wisdom—in Greek, Sophia—and she seeks it in the love of an abandoned child.

It may seem self-serving for me to call this book a “hidden gem,” since the publisher is our group effort and the author and I have traded writing samples for the last five years. Indeed, my input (and my editing) are woven into the fabric of the novel. But the end result is all Ariadne’s. And in truth, this book is a hidden gem—a debut novel by a writer with an extraordinary gift for description and characterization. It deserves your attention as a reader.

You need not take it from me. JJ Marsh, whose Beatrice Stubbs mysteries are hidden gems themselves, has given it a lovely review in the online magazine Words with JAM. If you don’t know Words with JAM, check it out. They have lots of interesting writer interviews and reviews, among them conversations with Kate Mosse, David Sedaris, and P.D. James. You can sign up to be notified when new posts go up.

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