Chanson Duvall’s novel, Our Lady of Dreams, reads on two different levels. One is that of a novel with a murder and confusion and mystery. The other level, in the guise of diaries within the narrative, is the path one character follows to enlightenment.
The voice of the book is that of Katherine Marconi, prosecutor with the LA District Attorney’s office and sister to John Paul, the murder victim. Katherine has not been in touch with her brother and is unaware that he has become a spiritual leader. His murder ties their lives back together and involves Katherine in both John Paul’s murder and in his teachings.
The diaries then document the journey of a professional quarterback, Thomas Mattkin. Thomas is a spiritual follower of John Paul. Initially, Thomas is not seeking enlightenment nor does he have a strong spiritual calling. Karmically though, John Paul and Thomas are incarnated Bodhisattvas.
Thomas is accused of murdering John Paul. The book alternates between the story of the murder investigation and trial and excerpts from Mattkin’s diaries. They document his experiences and learnings while studying with John Paul.
The book is long – 600 pages. It took me about two weeks to read the first 100 pages – though the balance of the book I read in about five days. Duvall’s writing would benefit from significant editing, much of the detail, especially in the story with Katherine narrating, carried the dullness of repeated Tweets. The characters ate endless Chinese and drank coffee all of the time, and I read about every single time they did.
I appreciated the diaries’ narrative more. Using Thomas’ experiences, Duvall’s writing instructed me on concepts such as chakras, the kundalani, and a range of philosophies and religious beliefs and figures.
Early on, there were many times when I wanted to set Our Lady of Dreams aside. I am happy that I finished it because I learned from the writings in the diaries within the book. It expanded and deepened my knowledge of the collective unconscious and eastern philosophies.
I found the story itself to be bloated with unnecessary detail and characters that were only vaguely interesting to me. Through a little research I found that Duvall has a spiritual message that he is sharing through this fictional setting. He has another book coming out and I hope that he works the story for a tighter narrative in support of the knowledge that he has to share.
Joanne is an organization development and human resources professional with a business background living in Ohio. She has lived in Europe, Africa (including her Peace Corps service in South Africa), and arround the United States. She loves to plays volleyball, read, write, and has a cat named Ender.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Newman Communications. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.