3 out of 4 stars
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Edmund Aristone’s Geraldine is a romance novel set in modern-day America. The novel’s eponymous character is depicted as an artist who struggles with bipolar disorder and past inner demons. Geraldine’s exceptional beauty and intellect attracts Tom McCoy, a suspended medical student who tends bar. Over sixteen chapters, Aristone takes readers into the world of Geraldine and Tom, and we see a profound and meaningful relationship develop between these two characters as they face the world together.
What I like most about this novel is the way in which Aristone illustrates Geraldine and Tom’s connection. While Geraldine’s world consists of fortune-telling psychics and believers in other-worldly spirits, Tom is a pragmatist who prefers to rely on facts. Despite their seemingly divergent belief-systems, Geraldine and Tom manage to form an authentic and loving relationship based on trust and the shared experience of past tragedy – both lost their mother at an early age. I particularly like the way in which the author incorporates brief yet poignant moments of philosophical insight into the dialogue. Aristone effectively uses the character of Reds as a foil for Tom, and this aids in highlighting the latter as reliable and deeply thoughtful. Tom’s belief that beauty begins in the soul is utterly charming and this definitely won me over.
Even though all the characters in Geraldine are inspired from real life, I disliked Aristone’s portrayal or lack thereof of the relationships between the two central characters and some minor characters. For example, I found it hard to fathom how Tom was able to love Virginia and Sally so immensely after just a couple of meetings. These relationships would have been more believable if Aristone had given us more than just a passing glimpse into them.
Geraldine is a fast, easy and fluid read and I rate it three out of four. Overall I find this novel to be well-written with some thought-provokingly philosophical musings. It is most likely that all readers will be able to relate to Tom’s observation of the illusion of time passing quickly when one is happy as oppose to painfully slowly when one is feeling sad or anxious.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a page-turning romance dealing with vanquishing inner demons through unexpected twists and turns. I would not recommend Geraldine to anybody who is sensitive to issues of abortion, alcohol-induced violence and profane language.
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