Jan 6, 2009

Conscience Point by Erica Abeel

Erica Abeel's Conscience Point, published by Unbridled Books, started off rough for me, with shifts in tone and language for one of the main characters, Nick Ashcroft. After about 60 pages or so, I became absorbed in the dark secrets and the Gothic mystery surrounding the once lavish estate of Conscience Point. Madeleine Shaye is a concert pianist, an arts journalist, a mother, and a lover who allows passion to derail her career and lead her down a path that is wrought with disappointment and heartache. Nick Ashcroft and his sister Violet lead Shaye onto this path and become the center of her world, despite Maddie's obliviousness. The deep secret that tears her relationship with Nick apart is predictable at best, but Abeel weaves a setting that captivates the reader and lulls them into the fantasy.

Shaye is a young pianist befriended by an eccentric artist from a wealthy New York family, Violet Ashcroft. She's easily dazzled by Conscience Point's ambiance, and the stormy eyes of Violet's brother Nick. She is equally captivated by Violet as an outcast and tormented girl. Despite the separation between Nick, Violet, and Maddie that lasts several years and through one marriage each, they connect as most artists will with exploding passion in a paradise far from their "real" worlds. Maddie and Nick revive their lust, which sweeps up Maddie and leaves her blind to the reality of her self-constructed family. "Love cannot dwell with suspicion" is an apt theme running through the first portion of this novel, which stems from an ancient Roman myth featuring Cupid and Psyche. However, amidst the turmoil that her life becomes, Maddie is once again swept up by her true passion--music.

Through the initial pages of the novel, Nick uses terms like "thistle-y" and "joint," which seem incongruous, and the narrator interrupts herself to stop digressions. These sections can be disruptive to the reader, but as they become less frequent and the pace of the drama picks up, the reader is absorbed.

"She'd never imagined you could love this hard yet keep yourself for your work. They swung through the hours, grooved as trapeze artists. Nick understood the musician's life, its ardor and implacable demands. . . . She in turn marveled at how he teased out the shapely book hiding in some winding manuscript;" (page 46)

While the plot of this novel is cliche in many ways, the real gem is the poetic language and intricate weave of music and art throughout the novel. Maddie's magic fingers hit the keys and the reader is drawn into the world of an artist. Conversations with her friend Anton about music and its composers easily draws readers into their highly dramatic world. Maddie has a great many regrets in this novel, but she has no one to blame but herself for her own misfortunes. This is a novel about finding yourself, learning to live with what you discover about yourself and your family, and staying true to your dreams and promises.

I would like to thank the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program for sending me this book back in October/November 2008.

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Also Reviewed by:
Booking Mama

The first person to comment on this post about why they'd like to read this novel will receive my "gently used" advanced readers copy of Conscience Point.

20 comments:

Sue said...

It sounds like a great read. I would like to read it because I am always been a sucker for gothic novels. This novel actually reminds me of Jane Eyre. Thanks for the great review.

okibi_insanity@yahoo.com

Serena said...

Sue: This book may take you a while to get into, but its a wild ride once you do.

Jeanette said...

I love the cover and title. I would definatly pick that book up to see what it was about if I saw it at the bookstore. Sounds like a very interesting book.

Dar said...

Great review Serena. I love the cover and I like gothic novels but it seems this one may be harder to get into. I sometimes tend to give up on those.

Gottawrite Girl said...

I love gothic novels, too. I did a paper about a FABULOUS tale in college that told of a woman trapped in yellow wall paper. Loved it!

And, just took the quiz... I'm the same Austin heroine as you!

: )

Amy said...

It does sound interesting. thanks for a thoughtful review, Serena. By the way, I gave you a blog award...check it out when you have time. :)

Janel said...

I love books with artists in them.

I just stopped by to tell you that I have given you a Butterfly Award! You can see my post here.

Serena said...

All of these awards...what ever is a girl to do! Looks like Sue will be getting the Conscience Point copy I have once she emails me her snail mail.

Thanks for commenting on the review everyone...I should be showing up at your blogs soon.

April said...

Hey Serena! I have awarded you the Butterfly Award! Please stop by my blog to check it out! http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com/2009/01/butterfly-award.html

Toni said...

This is an outstanding review. I enjoyed the reading the quote.

PS. I gave you the Butterfly Award thing. :)

naida said...

this does sound good, great review :)
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

S. Krishna said...

I really want to read this one, I love gothic mysteries. Thanks for the review!

Dar said...

Serena, I left you an award on my blog today. Check it out.

Anna said...

This one is in my TBR pile, and after your initial comments to me about the book, I'm sort of dreading reading it. LOL Great review.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

TheChicGeek said...

Great review and great page! Sounds really interesting. I'm going to check it out.

Shana said...

Sounds like a challenging read, Serena!

Shana
Literarily

Serena said...

Shana: It was challenging, but worth the challenge I think.

Literary Feline said...

I agree with what some of the others have said, it sounds like an interesting book even with its flaws. Thank you for the great review!

Wendy said...

Thanks for the link to your review of this, Serena. I don't know how I missed it since I subscribe to your blog! But you posted it in January and that was a really rough month for me with Caribou being ill and then dying, so I think I was largely moving through life then in a sort of fugue state.

Serena said...

Wendy: That is completely understandable. I sometimes miss things too.