Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Penguin Press!)
Summary: Stella Krakus, a curator at Manhattan’s renowned Central Museum of Art, is having the roughest week in approximately ever. Her soon-to-be ex-husband (the perfectly awful Whit Ghiscolmbe) is stalking her, a workplace romance with “a fascinating, hyper-rational narcissist” is in freefall, and a beloved colleague, Paul, has gone missing. Strange things are afoot: CeMArt’s current exhibit is sponsored by a Belgian multinational that wants to take over the world’s water supply, she unwittingly stars in a viral video that’s making the rounds, and her mother–the imperious, impossibly glamorous Caro–wants to have lunch. It’s almost more than she can overanalyze.
But the appearance of a mysterious map, depicting a 19th-century utopian settlement, sends Stella–a dogged expert in American graphics and fluidomanie (don’t ask)–on an all-consuming research mission. As she teases out the links between a haunting poem, several unusual novels, a counterfeiting scheme, and one of the museum’s colorful early benefactors, she discovers the unbearable secret that Paul’s been keeping, and charts a course out of the chaos of her own life.
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
This will be a short one. Basically, this is a novel to skip, it’s worth neither the effort nor the time. I really wanted to love this one – the publicist pitched it to me as an adult From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler-meets-The Goldfinch. How could I possibly say no to that?! I thought for sure this book had my name written all over it: the museum setting, an employee mysteriously goes missing, an odd map is discovered. Sadly, this one just didn’t work for me.
Stella is in her 30s and, after almost 10 years of marriage to Whit, will soon be divorced. She hopes. As long as he signs the papers. One day as she walks into CeMArt, rumors abound that a fellow colleague has gone missing. He hasn’t been seen in a few days, he hasn’t been answering calls or emails. Though a search and investigation are launched, business at the museum must go on, and Stella is given access to Paul’s computer. It’s while she’s in his office that she discovers a very strange – and old – map. A map that depicts a matriarchal Utopian settlement and Stella needs to know more.
A good reason why Impossible Views of the World didn’t work for me is because my expectations and excitement were just too high. Those comparisons to The Goldfinch and From the Mixed-Up Files just weren’t there…apart from featuring a museum. Instead, this book was page after very wordy page of Stella lamenting a fling she had with a fellow coworker (initially it was just a one-off, casual hook-up that became something more frequent and now Stella believes herself to be in love with him while he claims to love all women), avoiding her soon-to-be ex-husband, and complaining about her glamorous mother. That unfortunately left little time dedicated to the actual mystery, something I had believed to be the central focus of the novel prior to picking it up.
Lucy Ives is a poet and it’s very evident that this book was written by a writer who loves language. Other early reviewers said this novel came off as pretentious; while I wouldn’t necessarily go that far, the writing is definitely verbose and Ives has a penchant for using a string of $5 words (some of which I haven’t come across outside televised spelling bees) when a far more simple one could have easily sufficed. I’m sure there are (and will be, once this book is released tomorrow) plenty of readers who enjoy a tougher, wordy read. I’m not one of them – particularly not when it comes to what I thought was going to be a fun historical-esque mystery about an old map.
One other thing that dragged the book down and made it seem much longer than its slim 287 pages was that there’s very, VERY little dialogue. If you compiled all the dialogue, it would maybe be 5 or 6 pages. That’s it. The rest of the book is paragraph after long-winded paragraph of strange similes and Stella pining after her coworker. Perhaps the mystery here is actually finding the mystery. Sadly, Impossible Views of the World just wasn’t the book I thought it would be and the writing style made what should have been a fun, quick read, one that was instead a drag.