Thursday, 27 March 2014

Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Release date: 27th March 2014
Publisher: Walker Books
Reason for reading: Received a proof & it sounded intriguing 
Add it on Goodreads

Goodreads synopsis:

Foolish love appears to be a Roux family birthright. And for Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird, it is an ominous thing to inherit. In her quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to join her peers, sixteen-year-old Ava ventures into the wider world. But it is a dangerous world for a naive girl...

My thoughts:

I knew immediately that The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was a very special book. The prose is haunting, whimsical and lyrical, and it just draws you in and before you know it, you’ve read half the book and your bathwater has gone cold (in my case, anyway). The story charts the history of Ava’s family, beginning with her great grandmother and the birth of her maternal grandmother, Emilienne. The narrative dips and weaves and dances about in a mesmeric way, leaving you completely captivated. We’re introduced to many different characters, but the strength and uniqueness of their descriptions makes it easy to keep them distinct.

The whole cast of characters (bar a couple of notable and decidedly dastardly ones) are wonderfully described with the same painstakingly brilliant attention to detail and whimsical twist as the rest of the book. I do have a rather large soft spot for Ava's brother Henry, but it was her grandmother and mother Emilienne and Viviane, that I liked the best. Both have experienced tragedy and both have dealt with it in their own ways. This story is as much about them and their lives and loves as it is about Ava. 

Ava Lavender is full of the sort of magical realism that follows no logic, yet is totally believable. People turn into canaries, into ghosts that haunt the living, and yet at no point does the story seem unrealistic. Instead the magical realism aspect is threaded seamlessly through the narrative, only adding to the quirky and surreal feel of the novel, enhancing it further.

There’s an important message in Ava Lavender and that is that yes, love might make us fools, but that’s something that can be survived. There’s a fair few women in the story that are spurned, damaged and broken by love, yet they endure. They are strong and they fight and they carry on. No matter the choices made by them or by others, choices that affect them adversely, they make the best of what they have and that is a wonderful thing.

TL:DR; The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is mindblowingly good. Full of on-point whimsy, heart-wrenching tragedy and enough sweet moments to offer some hope, it’s a bittersweet tale of love and loss, but it’s also so much more than that. You want to read this book. 


  1. Gah, I hate you! You have written the perfect review ( I agree with all of the point you have made) of this wonderful, beautiful book, while all I have is a page of vague scribbles and fangirling.

  2. Ha! The bathwater going cold :) Can so relate. And, that cover is gorgeous!

    I liked the part "... love might make us fools, but that’s something that can be survived." Made me think.

    New follower here!

  3. I started reading this book recently and I could tell right from the first pages that I would LOVE it. Sadly, I haven't found the time to return to it, but I'm really looking forward to reading more.


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