The Picture of Dorian Gray / Oscar Wilde
Synopsis – A fancy and a dandy – dashing and devastatingly handsome young Oscar Wilde Dorian Gray – is taken under the wings of a brilliant painter and a hedonistic nobleman. Gray becomes the painter’s muse, and the nobleman’s mentoree. Immediately learning his devastating handsomeness is his most powerful attribute, Gray beseeches unknown entities to allow him retain his physical perfection in exchange for a perfect portrait of himself reflecting what would have been his aging. Lo and behold, he gets his wish. So of course Gray, immune to the effects of hedonism, partakes in a decades-long wine, men, and song party. As his portrait ages and reflects his sins, Gray becomes increasingly paranoid, and increasingly sinful. Perhaps he should’ve worded his wish more carefully.
Reaction – Reading this story was like listening to a charming raconteur at a private party celebrating the joie de vivre. The main character had an amazing character arc, and the supporting cast was believable and entertaining. A long passage describing the sensations of the senses immersed in the sensory world raised my brow, but I forgave Wilde for existing in a repressive English era. I decided the deus ex machina ultimately fit the book’s gothic fairytale theme.
Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.
Ambrose Fountain / Brian Sieve
Synopsis – A family man, determined to take one last shot at career success, packs up his family, moves to another country, and sinks all his hopes, dreams, and finances into an abandoned vineyard. He even makes a wish at the fountain well on his new property. Couldn’t hurt, right? In one season, he transforms the withered vines into fruitful boughs… or so he believes. When his colleagues, friends and family break ranks, he breaks. But the fountain well wish will come to his rescue… or so he believes. At least the wish wouldn’t hurt, right?
Reaction – The main character’s grief and despair was palpable and real. Other than that, the characters overall were a bit shallow, and the emotions seemed to be afterthoughts. An excitingly violent ending, with just enough carnage. A quick and easy read with themes similar to “The Shining.”
Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.