Parasol against the Axe by Helen Oyeyemi
“Now, If Hero Tojosoa was an axe,
then Dorothea Gilmartin was a parasol.
Really both were both, of course,
But you try telling them that.”
When Hero Tojosoa decides at the last minute to head off for an old friend’s wedding in Prague, she has no idea of the journey she’ll end up on. Fleeing from a situation she’s determined to avoid, Hero leaves for Prague despite the fact that she and the bride Sofie has drifted apart. Will their old friend Thea arrive? The novel Paradoxical Undressing gifted to her by her son, Jerome is anything, but an easy holiday read. In fact, Hero soon discovers that the book is different for each reader, a new story beginning on the first chapter.
Strange events in the slightly outdated guest house, lead Hero to further question her reality. Ghosts from the past along with faces from her future force decisions that are right outside Hero`s comfort zone.
As the story unfolds over the weekend of pre wedding preparations the relationship between Hero, Sofie and Thea is revealed with all its complications and secrets. Thea arrives, bringing uncomfortable truths and threat. Events escalate from this, portrayed sublimely as only Helen Oyeyemi can.
The city of Prague with its labyrinth of tunnels and stunning landmarks provides a very effective backdrop to Parasol against the Axe, almost becoming a character in its own right. Helen Oyeyemi has created vibrant complex characters, that pop off the page (my own personal favourite, the fabulous Jitka). Hero`s holiday read, the mysterious novel, Paradoxical Undressing is in itself integral to the story along with its enigmatic author Merlin Mwenda. Each chapter is so rich in detail weaving in historical Prague alongside modern-day Prague.
Parasol against the Axe is a brilliant read from the amazing imagination of Helen Oyeyemi. The flow of language reads effortlessly, with a strong clear narrative and the chapter length paces the story brilliantly.
I`d highly recommend this book.
(c) Karen Slammon
Order your copy online here.