The simple beauties of life in “The Marble Collector”

As usual, Cecelia Ahern manages to find, and more importantly, to convey the beauty that lies in what is everyday and mundane in her twelfth novel, The Marble Collector. In this case, marbles, shining, delicate and intricately crafted, lie at the centre of a personal journey. A journey that not only makes the characters question everything they thought they knew about life, but also makes the reader ponder over their won decisions they’ve made in their lives.

A forgotten childhood. A discovered life. What if you only had one day to find out who you really were?

When Sabrina Boggs stumbles upon a mysterious collection of her father’s possessions, she discovers a truth where she never knew there was a lie. The familiar man she grew up with is suddenly a stranger to her.

An unexpected break in her monotonous daily routine leaves her just one day to unlock the secrets of the man she thought she knew. A day that unearths memories, stories and people she never knew existed. A day that changes her and those around her forever.

The Marble Collector is a thought-provoking novel about how the most ordinary decisions we make can have the most extraordinary consequences for how we live our lives. And how sometimes it’s only by shining on a light on someone else, that you can truly understand yourself.

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I have always loved and enjoyed Ahern’s stories, I’ve made no secret of that, but this particular plot and meaning behind the story really sticks out for me when I think of her books. This wonderfully charming story is the kind of book that makes you think and leaves you with lingering thoughts. It forces you to take a deeper look at yourself and those around you.

However the thing that captivates me most about this novel is the deeper meaning that I believe Ahern was trying to teach us. Each and every one of us has secrets, or things we choose not to communicate — whether we are protecting someone, or embarrassed to share something, or haven’t found the right time to say it aloud, whatever the reason — The Marble Collector shows the problem with that, exploring the consequences of bottling something up and just how much it can affect us personally as well as those around us.

One thing that I did actually enjoy — and didn’t really expect to — was the heavy involvement of marbles in the story. This probably sounds ridiculous with the title being such a big give away, but often times with books I’ve found that the title rarely has anything to do with actual story, or it’s just a line or something that happens in passing. Marbles are an intrinsic part of The Marble Collector: in each chapter, memory, story they are ever present. The way in which Ahern has interwoven marbles through the book is cleverly done and wonderfully so.

As well as this, another thing to note with this beautifully crafted novel, is the beauty and rawness in such a simple, yet layered, plot. The Marble Collector is rife with these sweet and tender moments that draw you in to your own memories of family, conjuring your very own nostalgia and sentiment. Multiple times whilst reading this book  found myself lost in thought and putting the book down, not because I wasn’t interested in where this was all going, but because I wanted to hold and treasure that memory that had come to mind. Lost in my own world of memories that Ahern reminded me of.

It’s not like all of her characters are perfect — they’re not. They all make mistakes and they all have their issues, but this is actually something I always admire in Ahren’s novels: her imperfect characters have flaws, as we all do, but that in itself makes them perfect.

This is a story about identity, memory and family ties, about how so much of what we are is bound up in our shared history. If those closest to us don’t really know us, can we truly exist at all? In essence, it is only by sharing ourselves that we have someone to remind us should we forget.

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