Marlene and Sofia, a double love story by Pedro Barrento
(will add link once it's been published)
** I was sent an advance review copy of this book **
Having read this author's previous novel, The Prince and the Singularity, I knew I was in for an unusual and imaginative read with this one, and I wasn't disappointed.
The book begins with a marvellous piece of meta-fiction. The author has been given characters and settings for his next novel. Trouble is, they're not quite what he wanted, and it seems he's not at liberty to write his own book using them, anyway. He's got to bow down and do what the all-powerful literary guild tell him.
But he gets on with writing his own book anyway, starting with the chapters the guild sent him (people with colourful pasts in an old folks home, taking virtual tours (and more!) of Lisbon) and moving on to the title characters, two very different but equally beautiful young ladies.
There are a lot of characters in the early part of this book, but it all comes together soon, and from that point on it's hard to put the book down. The characters are brilliantly drawn, the writing style is simple and elegant, and the plot is intricate, layered and thoughtful.
Highly recommended. I really hope we see more from this author.