THE OLD WORLD DIES details the interactions and encounters of Theo Carnot, an artist and the nephew of an artist; the Millet sisters, sensible Isabelle and whimsical Luce, traveling the world with the money left to them by their father; Marina, a young Mexican woman who works for the Millet sisters, poses for Theo, and dreams of home; and Roland, Marina’s taxi-driver husband who wants nothing more than to earn enough money to take Marina back to the sunny paradise where they met. Chance encounters lead to chance relationships, to disaster and success, love and loss, as their safe Parisian world crumbles around them into rioting and crime.
Jarrard’s writing is lyrical and imaginative, with expressively beautiful description and intimate internal monologues. The stories – because this is in fact a series of several intertwining stories, rather than one simple tale – are told in stream-of-consciousness fashion, giving the reader a direct first-person view of what each character in turn is thinking and feeling. The point of view switches casually from person to person, in ways that don’t disturb or confuse, but give a multifaceted perspective on what’s going on.
The language is graceful and dreamlike, keeping the illusion of life serenely moving forward in the face of upheavals both internal and external. It’s almost like an artistic view of a pinball game, as chance throws one character’s storyline into contact with another, and the rebounding reactions set whole new sequences in motion. At times, the length of the meandering sentences, which at their peak take up full pages, can get excessive, even tedious, and the book is rather long for the amount of actual plot it contains. However, the reader who allows themselves to be swept away on the waves of prose, and to drift with the plot as it meanders, will be rewarded by a rich and engaging experience.
THE OLD WORLD DIES is a lush and vividly poetic book, meant to be experienced as a piece of art, a moving portrait of intersecting lives and relationships.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader