Thursday, 7 May 2015

Review: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Book of Strange New Things is a brilliantly imagined meditation on human nature and relationships set in a surprising, but beautiful, new world. Peter Leigh is a pastor on a surprising mission--he has been sent from Earth to Oasis, a far away planet where the locals are desperate to learn about the bible, or The Book of Strange New Things as they call it. Welcomed into this strange new land and treated like royalty, Peter has a wonderful time. Meanwhile, things are not going so well for his wife, Bea, back on Earth. The distance between them, and their radically different experiences, is putting a strain on their relationship. Can their relationship last the distance and just what is Peter willing to sacrifice for the people that he loves?

I first discovered The Book of Strange New things earlier this year when I attended Adelaide Writers' Week and listened to the author speak. For one reason or another, I never got around to buying a copy until a couple of weeks ago, but once I had the book in my hand, I was glad that I did. The story was not quite what I was expecting--after all, I've met many supposedly 'perfect' Christian couples like Peter and Bea--and I was glad to get a closer glimpse into their relationship and see that it was, in fact, real, and not a matter of convenience, or even self-delusion as proven by the novel's brilliant ending. I was also fascinated by Peter's discovery of the Oasians, and the lessons that he learns about gender and stereotypes. The Book of Strange New Things is quietly intelligent with its ponderings and meditations. 

Highly recommended.