Sep 21, 2008

Lost Diary of Don Juan, Found


Douglas Carlton Abrams' The Lost Diary of Don Juan transports the reader into a world where honor and piety are praised in 16th Century Seville, Spain, at the height of the Inquisition. But love must be chaste, and not lustful. Don Juan is fabled to be one of the greatest lovers and seducers of women, much like Cassanova. This work of fiction, written in a diary format, examines the inner Don Juan, his philosophies about love and lust, and his desire to remain honorable even as a galanteador. He refuses to tell tales of his "conquests," a term that really is inappropriate in the context of this novel. Don Juan does not conquer these women, but sets them free from the constraints of a society against passion and living life.

The sexual encounters in the novel are well portrayed and not too graphic, which is pleasing. Don Juan's humor is inviting as he talks about seducing women on the ground floor so he won't have to jump from trees to balconies any longer. There is often more than one side to a character or historical figure. These are humans after all and are we not multifaceted. I love the way in which Abrams fleshes out Don Juan as a sympathetic character in spite of his desires to lay with multiple women. He is not only a cad, but one who is afraid of truly loving one woman and becoming beholden to her as her faithful husband. He fears this love because he does not deem himself worthy.

Don Juan is a sympathetic and believable character, but his redemption is short-lived. It's a classic love story full of redemption, despite its fleeting nature. He loves women, and in some ways worships them. Don Juan is unaware of what he is missing in these fleeting relationships because his adrenaline pumps through his veins as he leaves their homes and seeks to escape their angry husbands and fathers. That is until he meets Dona Ana.

This novel has all the makings of a great historical piece from the duels and the honorable father to the trapped maiden, the wrath of the Inquisitor, and the betrayal of misplaced loyalties. Abrams carefully chooses his language to describe the streets and alleys of Sevilla, Espana, while sprinkling the text with Spanish words. This technique provides the diary technique with greater authenticity.

Although Don Juan is often thought of as a cad, this novel will provide readers with an alternative view--a renewed perspective on why one man sought love in the arms of numerous women and why that one man ultimately met his match.

***Reminder, tonight at Midnight the contest ends for a copy of Writing the Wave or a subscription to Writer's Digest. Check out the rules and enter here.

Also Reviewed By:
Booking Mama
Bookish Ruth
In Bed With Books
Bookroom Reviews
Literarily
The Literate Housewife
A Novel Menagerie

25 comments:

Shana said...

Serena, I'll be reading this in October. Your review has me looking forward to it even more than I already was.

I love reading about this time period and setting and it sounds like the character of Don Juan is well-developed.

Serena said...

He is well developed. I was languishing over the language in the book. It took me longer to read because I found myself enchanted with the language. I lingered over passages longer than expected. It must be the poet in me.

I can't wait to see your review.

Carolyn Jean said...

Sounds interesting! I love "found item" writing style novels like this. Letters, diaries.

Serena said...

I also enjoy these types of novels as well.

Literary Feline said...

I haven't heard of this one before, but it does sound interesting. I like books that offer me a different perspective on a historical literary figure.

Serena said...

I found out about this book on Author Buzz. I didn't win the free copy, but it was a great read.

Dar said...

Great review Serena. I've seen a few reviews of this one out there-looks like it'll be going on the ever growing tbr list.

Ruth said...

I really enjoyed your review, it's beautifully written. I enjoyed this book very much, and I loved the bits of humor scattered throughout.

Thanks for linking to my review as well! I really appreciate it. :)

Serena said...

Ruth: Thanks for stopping by to read my review.

Dar: I found out about this one on Author Buzz...and I couldn't wait to read it.

Marvin D. Wilson said...

Not sure how I wound up here, I think I found you on Twitter, Serena, bookmarked the blog and decided to stop in today. Good review. Makes me want to read this "New" Don Juan portrayal. I'll be back from time to time!

Marvin (Paize Fiddler on Twitter)
Blogs at Free Spirit: http://inspiritandtruths.blogspot.com/
Eye Twitter 2 - http://twitter.com/Paize_Fiddler

Marvin D. Wilson said...

Oh wait - I remember now - you left a comment on TheFriendlyBookNook blog on the day of the announcement of the Christian/Inspirational BBAW first place winner 2008. Which was (of course) Free Spirit (blush but not really - lol)

Serena said...

Thanks for stopping by!

Liviania said...

Thanks for linking to my review!

Serena said...

No problem Laviania

Tracy said...

I like your review, it's much better then mine:) I reviewed it for Pump Up Tours. Thanks for your lovely compliment the other day, it made my day!

Serena said...

Tracy, thanks for stopping by my review. I appreciate it. I liked your review as well.

Anna said...

I like how he shows another side to Don Juan. Interesting.

Amy said...

I enjoyed this book as well. :)

Fantastic review. ;)

Serena said...

I just love the language in this book. It was a good read. Thanks for stopping by my review and offering your kind words, Amy.

If you have a link to your review and I have not added it, let me know.

Zedque said...

Hi Serena, I work with Doug and thought I'd stop by to see what people are saying about the book. So glad to see you liked it!

Thanks especially for the praise re his language. Some reviews have found it too dense, but I think he did a great job of recreating the lavish, extravagant prose of the time period.

Thanks again for your great review!

Serena said...

Thanks for stopping by. I'm waiting on Doug's guest post that he's writing for me, so that should round out the review for my readers.

naida said...

this sounds like a great book. now I want to read it :)
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

Serena said...

You should read it is a great book. I really enjoyed it.

literatehousewife said...

Serena, this is such a great interview! I loved this book just as much as you did. I like the view of Don Juan that Abrams presents.

Serena said...

This is one of my favorites this year as well. Don Juan was more than his libertine life...isn't everyone?