Sep 21, 2008
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:
In Bed With Books
The Literate Housewife
A Novel Menagerie