Aurelia, Aurélia: Book summary and reviews of Aurelia, Aurélia by Kathryn Davis

Aurelia, Aurélia

A Memoir

by Kathryn Davis

Aurelia, Aurélia by Kathryn Davis X
Aurelia, Aurélia by Kathryn Davis
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  • Published Mar 2022
    128 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

Kathryn Davis's hypnotic new book is a meditation on the way imagination shapes life, and how life, as it moves forward, shapes imagination. At its center is the death of her husband, Eric. The book unfolds as a study of their marriage, its deep joys and stinging frustrations; it is also a book about time, the inexorable events that determine beginnings and endings.

Aurelia, Aurélia begins on a boat. The author, sixteen years old, is traveling to Europe at an age when one can "try on personae like dresses." She has the confidence of a teenager cultivating her earliest obsessions—Woolf, Durrell, Bergman—sure of her maturity, sure of the life that awaits her. Soon she finds herself in a Greece far drearier than the Greece of fantasy, "climbing up and down the steep paths every morning with the real old women, looking for kindling."

The preoccupations that mark Davis's fiction are recognizable here—fateful voyages, an intense sense of place, the unexpected union of the magical and the real—but the vehicle itself is utterly new.

Aurelia, Aurélia explodes the conventional bounds of memoir. It is an astonishing accomplishment.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] profound meditation on grief...brief yet stunning...An attentive reader and erudite writer, Davis plumbs her internal archive in search of solace and clarity in the face of ineffable tragedy...steeped in death but brilliantly transformative. A transcendent work of literary divination." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Novelist Davis conjures real and imagined worlds in this lithe and cerebral exploration of life, death, and the ways both influence craft...Bending genre and time, this is a pleasure to get lost in." - Publishers Weekly

"[An] exquisite, lightning-bolt bright, zigzagging, and striking musing on the self, life, death." - Booklist

"As a fan of her novels, I knew what to expect from Kathryn Davis: the beautiful prose, the depth of thought, the originality, the wit. But I was not prepared to be as moved as I was reading her intensely poignant memoir. She has a gift for writing about the most difficult subjects with honesty, precision, and grace, and though much of it is heartbreaking Aurelia, Aurélia made me rejoice." - Sigrid Nunez

"This is simply an incomparable book. Kathryn Davis has created what feels like a parallel plane of existence where lucky strangers―readers―are allowed to briefly visit." - Heidi Julavits

"Kathryn Davis's Aurelia, Aurélia is a splendid memoir, a spiritually fortifying meditation on the concept of transition as it applies to literature, music, life and death. The discovery of life's ending comes early with fairy tales and later with her beloved husband's death. In between she discovers words and writers and music. Reading To the Lighthouse with its famous transition, Davis is transported: 'You leave the page behind and if you're lucky you're granted access to the mind of the person who wrote what was on it.' Kathryn Davis grants her readers such access, and it is exhilarating. This is visionary work that rewards reading and re-reading." - Christine Schutt

This information about Aurelia, Aurélia was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Kathryn Davis

Kathryn Davis is the author of six novels. She has received the Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Lannan Foundation Literary Award. She teaches at Washington University, and lives in Vermont and St. Louis, Missouri.

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