Dawn at Last by Lawrence Grodecki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Dawn at Last by Lawrence Grodecki is a 2013 self published novel. I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Dawn at Last is an intriguing debut novel about one person at war with her past and it's future. It's about fear and love, real or imagined, and the close bonding of six misfits.
Single, 37 and never married, Donna Belauche – therapist, fugitive, entrepreneur – has everything in control until a chance meeting with an old sponsor. She must start again, leave Victoria, but she's tired – she needs other options. She tries to go it alone but they get in her way, those five other misfits.
This is a mosaic of fascinating characters, searching for a taste of love in their own delicious ways. Their stories blend – Ben the painter, Sunaria and Andrea, youthful dreamers, Pierre and Charles, more than just partners. It snaps a picture of love's morality, or lack of it, the clash between the material and the spiritual, and the art of life.
Lawrence Grodecki exquisitely portrays our strengths and frailties, capturing the tender moments where we find a little love . . . or where love finds us?
A group of six adults all at lose ends and all a little quirky find themselves connected to one another, some by pure coincidence and some by design.
Donna is the core character the others form around. She has set out to be come a psychology major but a research project turned into something more and she got a little side tracked and never got her degree. That doesn't stop her from presenting herself to clients as a bonafide therapist. Things aren't too bad until Donna is confronted head on with her past, forcing her make some changes.
Art is the foundation on which the plot is built.
"Like most, she can appreciate the talent and uniqueness, but not the process. It took many years for Charles to learn this about art lovers. No matter how hard they try, few really understand what is truly a gift, something truly priceless... but many try."
Art is in the eye of the beholder and in this case it take on a whole new meaning when art and therapy collide. Some artist are actually painting a story and each one of us reads it in a different way, much same as reading a novel.
As the six lives "blend" in the most unexpected ways, a person that has lived a life of fear has the chance to begin again. This development may close some doors, but opens new doors for Donna and the others in this odd ball group of people. They are all looking for some kind of connection and really isn't that what we all want? Some how, some way , these six individuals manage to connect on many different levels.
This is truly a unique novel. The prose is literary in nature, but the story is about love, courage, faith, and maybe even a little redemption. The characters all had very unique personalities that are revealed to the reader slowly making you wonder how all these people managed to connect and why did these connections seem to work out so well. But, it does work, although it was a bumpy ride for some. Each person found a little something about themselves they had not realized before. Some had more to overcome than others, but in the end there is a huge feeling of relief as Donna is finally able to let go of her past and accept her future without the need for secrecy and pretense. There was a kind of "The truth will set you free" moral to the story.
This book is different which made me really pay attention to the details and dialogue more closely. Once I started reading a chapter, it turned into two and although I needed to get to other books on my list, I kept going back and sneaking in a chapter or two whenever I had time. While the synopsis leads us to think the book is mostly an adult romance/drama , there are some very funny moments as well. If you have read any other reviews of this book, I'm sure you have seen warnings that this novel is for adults only. Yes, it is. However, a few have deemed it erotica and I can see that it might feel that way to some. I don't really have much interest in most erotica, but I think the word someone tossed out for this book was sensual and I think that is much more accurate. While unconventional and alright, a little controversial, all sexual content was written very tastefully. It's all a matter of perception and it is good to give readers an idea what kind of book they are reading. I just don't anyone to be misled by a label.
This author has a real talent for weaving an absorbing, albiet offbeat, story, bringing the characters to life, and keeping the reader interested and engaged. I understand this is the first book in a planned series. I hope that's true as I will certainly want to read more works by this author. One final thought for those that finish the book the cover art is quite revealing and I had to chuckle at the irony. You'll have to read the book to understand the meaning. So, on that cryptic note...
This book will appeal to adult romance readers, contempory or literary fiction lovers and anyone looking for something off the beaten path.
Overall this one is an A
INTERVIEW WITH LAWRENCE GRODECKI
Thanks Lawrence for taking the time out today to answer a few questions about yourself and Dawn at Last!
1) What inspired you to write a novel?
This is actually my second novel. I wrote the first about six years ago but when it was finished I decided not to pursue publishing it. Over the next five years I thought about writing off and on, while working on my art fulltime then. Finally, about a year ago, I knew it was time to break from my art and write Dawn at Last.
My inspiration for writing is much the same as with my art. It has something to do with a passion for truth. That has led to wonderful journey of escape into the imaginary, at other times it's hell. It can be playful and sensual or it can be a nightmare, a place you don't want to be. I try to write about the more positive aspects of life and the same goes for my art.
I'm also a big believer in Love - for me it is the most important truth - a real mystery! I see too much cynicism about it. That alone is motivation enough.
2) You are an artist as well as an author - tell us about your work as an artist.
Since leaving the corporate life behind I've come to see Nature in a different way. This ties in deeply with my answer to the previous question. One of the simplest truths is that there are no straight lines in Nature and that is a recurring aspect in my art.
I'm very concerned about the direction we're going, so much reliance on machinery while separating ourselves from Nature. So I try to make the best of it. I use a lot of materials from nature, mostly leaves, but only the fallen ones, including some I've had to chase in the wind. These are scanned into my computer, often along with hand drawn sketches, and then it's a matter of digital painting. Most of my palettes are actually from leaves, so the colors have a natural "blending" to them.
I try to express what I see in the wind, in the clouds and elsewhere. For some reason these tend to take on the feminine form. I don't know why, but when I try to balance my work off with more masculine forms, it seems forced and doesn't come out as I'd like it to . . . I succumb to intuition and it becomes a playful experience more than work. Also, I find so much more sanity in Nature.
3) What have been the most challenging aspects of promoting a self published novel?
Did I mention I have an MBA in marketing and strategic planning? You would think that would help, but in many ways it doesn't. Since this is more of a business question, I'd say it is the same challenge that all independent artists face - awareness.
There is so much out there and everyone in the developed world is being increasingly bombarded with information. Our attention spans - and perhaps our patience and tolerance - are being stretched to unprecedented limits.
The short answer is to reach the kind of readers who will love Dawn at Last, and then getting them to spend a minute or three to take a closer look, rather than a few seconds.
4) Who has influenced you the most in terms of your personal writing style?
I'm not sure I can properly answer this one. I've always admired Mark Twain. It was his advice that I followed all the way through writing Dawn at Last. I'd often hear those words throughout the process, "Just tell the story."
I was also reading a little Anais Nin at the start, her book of short stories, Little Birds. The way she touched on pretty abstract issues in simple terms, the simplicity of her style, that certainly helped.
Finally, more years ago than I can remember now, I took to heart the advice of W. Somerset Maugham, "There are three rules to writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." In the process I came to learn that he was tricking us - there are actually five such rules!
5) What genres do you read the most?
Aha - for me this is a trick question! Until almost finishing Dawn at Last I'd never thought of this issue of genre. Throughout my life I've always had eclectic interests. As a child I was fascinated by Treasure Island, Greek Mythology and a biography on Leonardo da Vinci. Later I'd go from Jerzy Kosinki's The Painted Bird to something by Carlos Castenada to Anais Nin to Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse and then Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Throughout that I'd be dabbling into a book on the I Ching, and doesn't everyone love Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media? I enjoyed Dan Brown's first four books and I've tended to avoid Harlequin romances. The odd time I'll read a little of the dictionary, out of curiosity. I hope that answers the question.
6) What are you reading now?
To be honest I'm not reading as much as perhaps I should . . . so much of my time is used up in promoting Dawn at Last. Also, for a break on my eyes - a change of pace - I'll spend some precious time on my art. Having said that, I'm still trying to finish The Dancing Goddess, have barely started The Prowler by Kristjana Gunnars (talk about an interesting style), and I'm also reading a little Alice Munro, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. Finally, there are a number of new author acquaintances I've made, self publishers like myself, and it's impossible to keep up with all their writing, but I do what I can.
7) Where can readers contact you?
I have my blog, HYPERLINK "lawrence%20interview.doc" lawrencegrodecki.wordpress.com and my website, HYPERLINK "www.lawrencegrodecki.com" www.lawrencegrodecki.com . Those are my two online hubs and my other social media contact information is on each of those . . . I'm mostly on Goodreads, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. I do like Pinterest as a bit of a sanctuary, including a Pin board that gives a fun-filled pictorial of the book.
Also, if you're in town, you might find me hanging out at the corner of 18th Street & Brandon Avenue . . . a quaint little coffee shop called "Forbidden Flavors" . . . so far I haven't been forbidden but I'm working on it!
Time travel also sometimes works, depending on what zone you are in, and me as well.
8) What are you working on now?
Oops - didn't I just mention what I'm working on? I'm working on a few projects. One is a possible sequel to Dawn at Last. I feel the book can certainly stand on its own, but then my closest fans keep wanting to know more about these darn characters . . . it seems you kind of love 'em or leave 'em?
I'm also working on a series of short stories, an embellished take on my life story. That only starts at the age of six, and it's more about a real-life witch named Mrs. Antichilles than it is about me. We were told to stay away from her - you can imagine how that went over! I'm saving the embellishing for the later stories.
9) Name your five favorite authors of all time.
No. Sorry, I just can't do that. One reason is that it in hindsight the answer varies from one time to another. Also, I tend to read books more than follow authors. For example, while I love A Tale of Two Cities, I've only read a few other Dickens books.
10) Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?
Now this could be a very long list. Given my thoughts in recent years, it would be a timeless quote from Buddha, "Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened."
Finally, I do find it fascinating that for all our knowledge, we cannot find the center of the flame of any given candle. It seems this is as it should be. This too is about love?
Thanks again Lawrence! Great interview! Dawn at Last is available in the Amazon kindle store.
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