Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 384 pages
First Published: 2020
I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
In the preface, a Parisian bookbinder explains that Crossings is a manuscript of three stories bound together: a letter from a poet, a World War II romance, and the autobiography of a deathless enchantress. In a choose your own adventure style, you can read the book straight through and enjoy three interconnected stories. Or you can use the alternative method, skipping around in a predetermined sequence to get one cohesive novel.
Although I thought it was interesting how Landragin constructed the novel in multiple ways, the core story lacked interest to me. Too many descriptors and not enough action made this star-crossed lovers tale drag horribly, and I finally gave up at about 80% through.
Alex Landragin’s Crossings is an unforgettable and explosive genre-bending debut―a novel in three parts, designed to be read in two different directions, spanning a hundred and fifty years and seven lifetimes.
On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence.
The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations.
With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary. Crossings is an unforgettable adventure full of love, longing and empathy.
About Alex Landragin
Alex Landragin is a writer, journalist, librarian, and musician. His debut novel, Crossings, was published in 2020. He was born in France but grew up in Australia. He currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.