SAND DOLLAR by Sebastian Cole
This is Sebastian Cole’s debut novel and a first foray into the world of becoming a published author. He is a native of New England in the USA, and it is clear that this narrative draws greatly on personal experience. It was my privilege to receive a signed courtesy copy of SAND DOLLAR directly from the author, so it would be discourteous of me not to share a few thoughts about it.
Without giving a summary of the plot (an aspect of book reviewing I try to avoid), let me tell you some important areas of life that SAND DOLLAR elaborates. First of all, it roughly fits into the genre of Romantic Tragedy, with a heavy bias towards Fantasy. All of which means that, throughout its dénouement, especially during the emotionally charged scenes, you have to constantly do ‘reality checks’. Nothing wrong with that; just remember that some of the events are unlikely to happen in the real world.
The narrative takes you into the world of a rich Jewish family, proud of its ancestry and covetous of its progeny and its legacy. It follows the age-old storyline of rich boy meets poor girl, falls hopelessly in love, which leads to much pain, anguish, passion and suffering as the story progresses. The reader may be enlightened (as I was) about a little known syndrome called BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) which fundamentally underpins the broken relationships within the novel. And for those who have never encountered the phenomenon ‘out of body, near death experience’, there is an interesting twist on this in the context of the protagonist, Noah, whom we see as an eighty year old, lying on a hospital bed, recounting the story of his life.
Noah’s life is like journey, indeed, almost like a pilgrimage. His love life has a definitive start when he meets Robin, but his relationship with her is a journey, a long tortuous journey of overcoming obstacles, climbing mountains of pain, descending into valleys of joy, only to eventually arrive at a destination that was all to familiar to him: that he loved Robin to the point that he couldn’t imagine life without her.
I would not choose to read romantic fiction as a matter of course, but I would recommend this narrative most heartily because it touches on the theme of life being a journey, the start and the end of which is not of our choosing, but the duration of which challenges us at every step to make the right the decisions for ourselves, and those around us. And at the end of the journey, we arrive at an all too familiar place.
Let me quote T.S.Eliot from his Quartet ‘Little Gidding’:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all out exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.