02 November 2007
MotherTalk Blog Tour:
The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose

Today my blog is one of the stops on Mother-Talk.com’s Blog Tour for The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose (read Rose's backstory here).

The Reincarnationist; M.J. Rose; ISBN-13: 978-0778324201; Mira Books (September 1, 2007); hardcover; 464 pp.

This is the synopsis on Mother-Talk, which comes from Publishers Weekly:

The Reincarnationist by M.J. RoseRose delves into religious myth and past-life discovery in her well-paced ninth novel. In present-day Rome, a terrorist bomb explosion triggers flashbacks of pre-Christian Italy in photographer Josh Ryder. Josh experiences the memories as Julius, a pagan priest defending the sacrosanct monuments of his gods and the life of his vestal virgin lover against the emperor-mandated onslaught of Christianity in A.D. 391. Six months later, Josh has teamed with the Phoenix Foundation, an institute specializing in past-life memories in children, to explore a newly excavated tomb that may contain pagan memory stones that incite past-life regressions and will, by proving the existence of reincarnation, challenge the church. The stakes rise after it becomes clear that dangerous outside forces also want the stones. In a series of memory lurches, the narratives of Josh and Julius slowly wind together to reveal a Da Vinci Code–esque tale of intrigue that’s more believably plotted and better meets its ambitions than Dan Brown’s ubiquitous book.

As the title of the book suggests, the main theme of this fast-paced thriller is reincarnation, and anyone who is even remotely interested in or curious about this subject (as I am) will enjoy this read. Rose’s exceptional research taught me a lot about the concept and its history, and she kept me guessing on the plot until the final page was turned and even thereafter.

I really can’t ask for more in a book.

I particularly like that early on, Rose lays out the significance of reincarnation research with the words of one of the characters who studies the phenomenon:

Yes, imagine if man believed he alone bore responsibility for his eternal rest, that it is within his own control to get to heaven. No Father, no Son, no Holy Ghost. What would happen to the power the Church holds over our souls? Imagine the worldwide confusion and rebellion and exodus from the Church if reincarnation were ever proved?

With this we know from the start that the stakes are high, and now we're ready for Josh Ryder to begin his quest to solve not only the mystery of his own possible past lives and how they affect his present one but also the larger question of whether reincarnation is real and/or whether it can be definitively, scientifically proven.

For those who enjoy Dan Brown’s twisting and turning tales of religion and esoteric subjects, you’ll also like this one. Much like my opinion on Brown’s work, I can’t say as though it’s a literary masterpiece, but I don’t say that as a criticism.

That’s just not why I pick up a book like this and you probably don't either--I read it for the pure adrenaline rush, for the excitement that keeps me awake to read just one more chapter, for the broadening of my own perspective on interesting subjects, and for the inspiration to do further research and learn more on my own.

And on these goals, Rose absolutely succeeds.

My only real complaints are that some of the details about Italy and Italian life stuck out to me in a bad way (and you never want your reader to have to stop and think about details that have nothing to do with the story).

Examples: An Italian who takes a whole thermos of coffee to work? Unlikely as most do quick shots of espresso at the bar. Another Italian who eats buttered and jammed rolls for breakfast? I suppose it's possible, but it certainly isn't the norm as, again, a pastry at the bar is more likely. The University of Rome "La Sapienz?" Well maybe you *could* say that, but the name is really "La Sapienza" and I can't imagine a good reason to shorten it in a novel where it's only mentioned in passing anyway.

[See comments for author M.J. Rose's response to these concerns.]

There are some others, but I'm just being picky as Rose’s research on reincarnation and the time periods of which she writes, particularly of early Christian Rome, really shines and is expertly woven into the book; I came away knowing a lot more about Rose's main subjects without feeling like I’d just been to a history lecture, which is always a positive thing.

Overall, I give this one 4 espresso cups out of 5 for the author’s impressive ability to keep me turning the pages--yes, all 464 of them in record time. I’d love to read more by Rose.

And now for my 30 Days of Thanks:

30 Days of Thanks
Today I am so very thankful for:

The opportunity to have read and continue to read so many wonderful books.
From a young age, books have been my one of most reliable friends, and never has our relationship been more important than it is now as I'm an ocean away from family and my closest friends--not only for company in and of themselves, but also to provide me another common thread with those important in my life, yet another thing to talk about on the phone or through email.

It just makes me feel in touch with the rest of the world when I can read what they're reading.

And about books in general? Like many of you I'm sure, I love getting lost in other worlds, and isn't it just the best when you finish a book and then find yourself wondering about the characters a week (or more!) later? Or when you put off reading the last pages of a book because you just don't want it to end? I'm thankful for good authors, then, as well.

You can always see what I'm reading over on my sidebar, and now I'm wondering:

Any book recommendations you'd like to share?

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Blogger Poppy Fields said...

Me too, I love getting lost in books. I'll "book mark" this one for a future read. I jusy finished the fourth in a Diana Gabaldon series. It's not heavy reading but has my imagination firmly wandering about the 18th century :)

Blogger Tui said...

Sounds like a good read!

I know what you mean about books being friends. I had a box of favorites sent to Italy, but (long story short) the box was sent back! I hope they are not lost forever... :/

Do you buy your books online, then? Or have you found a store in a nearby town that sells books in English?

For the moment, I'm stuck reading Italian comics! :)

Blogger sognatrice said...

This comment has been removed because it linked to malicious content. Learn more.

Blogger Tui said...

Is it me, or is the NaNoWriMo site counterintuitive? I can't find a "search" section anywhere... I really want to add you, but I'm getting frustrated with that site. :(



for what it's worth!

Y'know, I signed up for the SisterHood, thinking, "When my books get here, I'll have at least one to contribute." At the moment, the only pages I'm turning are those of Martin Mystere. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. :)

Blogger sognatrice said...

Tui, the NaNo site is horrible, and they've admitted as such, looking to redesign for next year; there's no way to search for buddies, and even worse, you can only ever see your first 10 buddies anyway, so I have buddies that I'd rather see but I can't even arrange them. Mah. I have added you and you can find my profile if you click on the NaNo button in my sidebar. I also put a fun word count widget up there--did you see it?

I feel your pain on the reading material; I struggled for a while too. They say that Amazon UK is a good way to go if you're interested in ordering. Most of my books are packed away right now, but I can certainly send you some of mine when they're accessible...I'll make up a list :)

Anonymous My Melange said...

SOunds like a good read. I am interested in the subject so I guess I have it pick it up when I am done with the end of my current *pile*. Just read *When in Rome*(the one you had), that was really good and I am in the middle of *The Reluctant Tuscan*...so far really good!!!

Blogger MJRose said...

Thank you so much for reading the book!!! And all the great things you had to say. And for reading the book so carefully.

Mother-Talk suggested I drop by the blogs to see if anyone had questions... so I'll answer some of your Italian issues. I had an Italian policeman read the book and a newspaper guy who lives in Rome read it. There's actually an explanation for all of them.

The thermos - the man was going to be at work for hours without leaving his post and couldn't leave to get any coffee.

The man eating bread and rolls was eating with two Americans at their hotel and was doing what cops do often -- mimicing their suspsects actions to make them feel unthreatened - sitting how they sit, cocking their heads the same way, ordering what they order. In this case the bread was on the table.

And lastly, the college - in context the person speaking wouldn't have said the long version.

Blogger sognatrice said...

Robin, you should definitely pick it up--the Rome setting alone will hook you :)

MJ, thanks so much for coming over and addressing my concerns; how wonderful of you to take the time to do so!

A little creative difference is expected in writing and I should've written in the review that I'm sure you had your reasons for including the details that bothered me--in my head I knew you did as your research is obviously impeccable throughout the book.

Still, as someone who has lived in Italy for several years, I probably would've gone different ways on those details. I've never even *seen* a thermos used for hot beverages here (people who can't leave work to get coffee tend to have it brought to them) and even Italian cops are picky about what they eat and when (butter is rarely eaten in the south, and hardly ever on bread).

And not that I really want to argue these points as I do respect your choices, but actually the "La Sapienz" I'm referring to is located on page 43 and isn't spoken but in a news story; perhaps there's another I missed?

Really none of this matters very much to me as I loved the book as a whole and I do hope that some of my readers will pick it up.

Thanks again for coming by :)

Anonymous Erin said...

Sounds like a great book. I think I'll have to look into it. I LOVE reading so much that I collect as many books as I can so that I always have a choice when I want to pick up a new one. Right now I have 32 waiting for me...

That sounds really intriguing! I love that topic, as well. Although, due to Catholic teachings, I'm caught in the middle of the truth behind reincarnation. However, I've had too many odd experiences of my own to close my mind to the possibility. I have to wonder, though, how much is reincarnation and how much is cellular memory passed down through one's own generations of ancestors? Something to ponder. :-) I'm definitely going to pick up that book, though! There's just so much hidden in the "unused" parts of our brains that you have to wonder what all is possible that just hasn't been concretely proven yet. Thanks for the suggestion! :-)


Blogger Karina said...

This sounds like a book I'd enjoy, I'll have to add it to my ever growing list of TBR's.

I feel the same way you do about books, there are few things as pleasurable as getting completely wrapped up in a good story line, so much so that you are still thinking about it days or weeks after you've finished the book, I completely agree.

As far as recommendations go, I'm actually reading a book now that I think you might be interested in. It is non-fiction, sort of a "documentary" in book form, but from the way I see that you like to explore cultural differences and study the world in general, this one might be something you'd find as fascinating as I have. It is called "In the Land of God and Man" and was written by Silvana Paternostro. It's an older book (late 90's), about women in the Latin and Latin American culture, and how machismo and religioun of the culture leaves women behind. It was mostly written to address the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Latin American countries, and although I picked it up thinking it was something else entirely, I can't put it down. I'm fascinated and horrified all at the same time. But like you said, it makes me want to do more research and find out what the situation is now, a decade or so later.

Anyway, not really sure if this is your cup of tea (or espresso as it might be), but let me know if it is, and I'll send it along to you (I'm about 10 pages from finishing it).

Blogger Jane said...

Sounds like a great read that I'll add to my list! Happy Friday to you :))

Blogger sognatrice said...

Erin, I hear you! I'm a book collector too :)

Christina, I think you'll really love this book; I was raised Catholic so I can see your dilemma well...I'm still trying to resolve all this stuff myself ;)

Karina, that book sounds so interesting! I'm a big fan of nonfiction as well, especially on social/health issues. If you could send it, I'd love it thanks!

Jane, Happy Friday to you as well!

Blogger qualcosa di bello said...

me too!!!! i am so thankful for books & for the love of them my momma instilled in me at a very early age. she read to me incessantly, bless her!

recommendations??...i am steeping in the classics right now (rereading some shakespeare), & i will say that i need to do that from time to time.

Blogger sognatrice said...

Qualcosa, I definitely have times when I go back to the classics; in fact, one of my hugest regrets is not bringing over my Shakespeare book from college. Too heavy to send, so I'll just have to wait until I get home or someone from home comes to visit me (my mom did just send me my Jane Austen collection though!) :)

Blogger Dee said...

The book sounds really interesting...you had my attention when I read reincarnation and pre-christian Italy...yes I am going to read the book.

The most recent book I read was "Eat,Pray,Love"...which I liked and made me want to visit Italy and Indonesia.

The book I am going to recommend is "A long way gone" It's a memoir and it's heart breaking and great. I have a review of it on my blog if any one is interested.

Blogger mks said...

My most recent fvaorites are Eat Pray Love, The Kite Runner, my further back favorite it The Red Tent and Marley and Me

Blogger Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Okay, I'm going to have to read this one. Definitely. Thanks for the review!

Blogger sognatrice said...

Dee, I too loved Eat, Pray, Love and I definitely want to read A Long Way Gone after reading your review; thanks!

MKS, I've only read one of those...lots for me to catch up on!

Jen, you're quite welcome :)

Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

This is not a new book, but a favorite: These is My Words by Nancy Turner.
It's fiction, but based on Turner's grandmother's journals, if I'm remebering correctly. Her characters lingered in my mind for weeks.

This sounds like a good read; I'll have to check it out.

Missed you!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Anonymous misplaced misfit said...

Books...I think I remember those.

I usually have my nose stuck between the pages of something, but the past month has made it virtually impossible for me to read anything except blogs on my one day off.

I can't wait for this gig to be over (have about 6 weeks to go) so I can once again dive into a good read. I'm putting The Reincarnationist at the top of my list.

Anonymous Carrie said...

I just picked up The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I'm already half way through it. I've been waiting to read this book for ages.

The Reincarnationist sounds terrific and I've added it to my reading list. I love big, sweeping historical novels of any genre.
Way to dangle that carrot!

My Several Worlds by Pearl S. Buck. was instrumental in my move to China and later it became the inspiration for my blog.

I'd love to trade lists with you sometime.

Blogger sognatrice said...

Beth, sounds fabulous! Thanks :)

Scarlett, miss you too :(

MM, I know what you mean about long periods of time without reading for fun...for me it was law school!

Carrie, one of the things I really need to do is work on a book list--what I've read, what I actually have with me and can trade. You're inspiring me to get on it. Thanks for the suggestions!

Blogger cheeky said...

Aren't books just wonderful. I have a stack of books to read and I'm already thinking, what else can I get my hands on. I don't want to miss out on any good ones! I am thankful we have the privilage to have access to books.

Blogger sognatrice said...

Cheeky, I'm the same! No matter how big my pile is I want more...I have to say that books are definitely my weakness when it comes to purchases and pack-ratting ;)

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