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18 May 2015

From Afar by Frank Scozzari - Book Review

I have recently been contacted by a U.S. press release distribution company, Bostick Communications, to write book reviews on freshly published books. I felt so excited about it and immediately decided to accept the offer. Straightly after my subscription I got an offer to review From Afar by Frank Scozzari, a book that immediately caught my attention and decided to go for it!

From Afar is the story of Morgan, a guy from California in search for love who, after having searched the Internet far and wide for a Russian lady, decides to travel to faraway, cold Russia. However, his quest turns into a series of bittersweet misadventures.

I really enjoyed reading From Afar. When I start reading a book I often recall some books that I read in the past with a very similar plot. This didn't happen to me with From Afar as its plot is definitely unique.

In my opinion, this book cannot be categorised as a romance novel. In fact, there are only a few elements of a romantic book; the love essence of From Afar lays in its interesting approach towards the theme of love from a distance in line with Russian author Pushkin's vision that the former is stronger than concrete love and proximity between the two sides.

The setting of the book is a very interesting one: starting from Santa Barbara, California, the protagonist flies to St. Petersburg, Russia. Even though the story is set today, the discourse on Cold War and its legacy is still open. In his mind, Morgan makes a few cultural remarks on the way people look down on him or admire his American charm. However, this never gets a political take, keeping the topic to a light level.

Onto the Russian setting itself, I enjoyed the descriptions of Slavic architecture and art: I have never been to Russia and I am not very familiar with its art so it was definitely interesting to learn about it. In one of my favourite passages, Morgan is by himself in a hall of the Royal Palace and dreams about going back to the time of Peter the Great and watching men and women dancing gracefully. I completely identified with that scene as I like to do that in my mind when visiting museums or palaces; besides, the Russian court is always portrayed beautifully in films, so I guess that it would be breathtaking to be right there, fantasising about it… The book also gives out a lot of much information on Russian traditions. Although I liked reading about the Potseluev Bridge, the bridge of the kisses, and the odd number of flowers to give to ladies, I can't say that I appreciated the Russian women online-hunting as much. That gives the book a very contemporary feel, which is great, but I find that kind of 'love search' is quite lame and objectifies both men and women.

The book runs smoothly and is, overall, an easy read. I enjoyed the first-person narrative in that we follow most of Morgan's ironical thoughts, especially the things that he wants to say but holds himself from. He is a hilarious character with a positive take on life: despite the continual challenges he goes through, he keeps trying to act positively and that is something I appreciate in a person (or character). It reminded me of what solo travel is like, with its constant ups and downs and difficulties from not knowing the place.

Overall, I really enjoyed From Afar. It is a light read that also engenders some deeper thoughts about cultural clashes and love as a universal theme.

My edition: Frank Scozzari, 2015. From Afar. San Bernardino: Solstice Publishing. As I mentioned, I did not purchase this book but it was kindly sent to me by the author himself. You can find it on Amazon by clicking here.

Goodreads: 4/5.

6 comments:

  1. Congratulations on working with Bostick Communications, Assia! I recently started getting ARCs and review copies, and it really does feel good to get a surprise in the mail every once in a while! From Afar sounds great! I actually really enjoy books where the romance doesn't dominate the plot. And this book sounded perfect for you with the travel elements!

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  2. Thank you Summer! You're so sweet <3 do you get sent books from publishing companies?? That's so cool!

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  3. You're welcome! ^.^ For a while, I've been using netgalley and receiving ebooks. But yes, I recently started getting physical copies from publishers, which has really made me happy since I don't read from my ereader that much.

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  4. Congrats on working with Bostick Communications. :) Will try to find this book to read someday as I always love a good book.

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  5. That's lucky! Yeah, I don't like eBooks at all :/

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  6. Thank you Stephie! Let me know your thoughts if you read it :) xx

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