Article first published as Book Review: ‘The Novel Life of Coral Ambrose’ by Bonnie Ballou on Blogcritics.
In “The Novel Life of Coral Ambrose” we meet Coral, who has a bit of a problem with book hoarding. It dates back to a tragedy in her childhood when her 5 year old brother was killed. Coral is unable to remember anything prior to the news of his death.
Unable to part with anything that she has read or written in her journals, Coral decides that she needs to either get a bigger place to live, or try to get rid of some of her books. She approaches a used book store owner for guidance, and when he sees all the books she has amassed, he offers an interesting solution to resolving her issue. He loans Coral a special messenger/book bag that will take Coral into a story based on the particular genre of the book that Coral places is in the bag. Coral enjoys checking out all the different genres; she goes through horror, western, fantasy, children’s fiction, romance and even a phone book.
Each book takes Coral into a different story; however, she soon notes that there is a common theme among the characters in almost every book. As soon as Coral learns the truth about the bag, she realizes that it holds the key to helping her find out who killed her brother. She also discovers that the bag is being desperately sought by some dangerous men. The adventure becomes reality in Coral’s mundane world.
Like Coral, I too was once a book hoarder. For me to break my habit, it took a 7.2 earthquake to wipe out my book room. I had to focus on cleaning up and repairing the rest of my home before I could even think about putting those books back up on the shelf. Six months later, I donated almost all of them. For Coral, she has to go through many adventures and solve the mystery of her brother’s death to regain her lost memories, before she can comfortably part with them. I really enjoyed how well the author managed to present multiples genres in one novel. She is so talented she plays them all off very well. To tie the whole story together, I discovered that this fun mystery novel was also one of psychological suspense.
I had such a fun time reading “The Novel Life of Coral Ambrose” by Bonnie Ballou. I truly hope that there will be more books to follow by this author. This is also the perfect selection for a reader’s group. The author even provides a list of thought provoking questions at the end of the novel that will stimulate interesting discussions.