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The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love…
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The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story (2012)

by Theodora Goss

Other authors: Scott McKowen (Illustrator)

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» See also 26 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this lovely book by Theodora Goss. It is a love story told from both sides, with a twist of legend crossing into a contemporary setting. I'm glad I found this book to add to my collection! ( )
  thioviolight | Feb 5, 2014 |
Originally posted at Paperback Wonderland.

Never judge a book by its cover.
I already knew this and yet, here I am.

This is, quite easily, one of the prettiest books I own. The book itself, as an object, is worth a whole star (perhaps even more...).

Now the story...
First of all, and this is important, it's not badly written.
The dialogue is a bit trite and at times unbelievable, but other than that it's fine.

The plot hinges on a cliché I personally hate: that of star crossed lovers who will fall in love because it was all meant to be. This may appeal to many people but it's a particular deterrent to my full enjoyment of a story. "Even so," I thought, "The characters... they'll be what will pull it all together, if they're great, it can still end up being good."
The characters didn't help.

I started with Evelyn's story, perhaps that was a mistake. Normally, when I find a character like this, I will dislike him or her. A spoiled rich girl whose "parents just don't understand" (thanks Fresh Prince) why she'll drop into whimsical considerations every other paragraph and whose only refuge is her poetry (which was criticised by the poet laureate, but that makes him an idiot because, really, what does he know, am I right?) Like I said, I don't like characters like this. But I couldn't even muster dislike for Evelyn. She was so wishy-washy, so barely interesting at all, that she gave me a serious case of "I nothing her."

Brendan's story was easier to get through. He was still annoying here and there, talking about how he'd never made real friends with the other boys in his fishing village because he "was different, a scholar", which just about tells us he doesn't know what friendship is at all, I mean, can you imagine how dull life would be if you were only friends with people who are like you? He just seemed snobbish, he was "a little hurt - that she'd assume he was just a poor boy from Clews." Seriously? Seriously? But not even that made him interesting.

In the end, the only thing I felt strongly about was the fact that I paid €12 for this :( ( )
  Isa_Lavinia | Sep 10, 2013 |
Timeless Love...

I literally read this in one night. This was engaging and romantic without being sappy or sentimental. The characters are very sympathetic and I wish the book had been longer because I wanted to know more about them and what their future would hold. There was enough to keep you reading but not so much that the story became incredible. A short but laudatory review for one of shortest but best reads so far of 2012.

READ THIS BOOK. ( )
  ELEkstrom | Jun 6, 2013 |
Lent to me by a friend (thanks!) -- I received it in the post today and read it this evening in one go. It's a pair of connected novellas/short stories, which cover more or less the same events from the point of view of the two main participants. It doesn't really matter which you read first: each illuminates and complements the other. It's a lot of fun, actually: the physical copy of the book has concertina pages, so you read it one way, turn it round, and read back the other. It's a very nice little volume.

The story itself is a little bit thin, I think: it's vaguely based on the Arthurian romance tradition, though on a story that I've never heard of and which I think was invented by the author. I like the idea, but I feel like a lot more could've been done with it -- despite the freshness of the idea, it does feel a little... gimmicky.

Oh, and I liked the fact that the narratives didn't exactly mesh. They don't remember, word-for-word, what each said to the other. It's very human, and unreliable. I liked it, in this instance. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
I have to start with this actual physical book. If you read my blog, you might be aware that I don't accept books for review. Reading on a schedule was starting to feel like work, so I decided to just say no to free books and read what I want when I want. It works better for me. I still get the occasional pitch and I will glance through them but I ultimately move on.

The pitch I got for The Thorn and the Blossom was different. "As for the unique format, The Thorn and the Blossom intertwines Evelyn’s and Brendan’s stories in an accordion-fold binding so that readers can choose whose perspective to read first, his or hers. Either way, the other will bring a surprise."

I couldn't picture it. Luckily, a link to the book trailer was included for me. I was curious; I had to watch. Then I knew I had to have this book. Here's the link. Go ahead. Watch it. I'll wait.

I got it in the mail, ripped it open, and fell in love. It is just a gorgeous book. There are a few illustrations and I loved those. The covers (Evelyn's, Brendan's, and the box that holds the book together) are well-matched and elegant. It's a smaller "hardcover" and I am drawn to those. I like the way they fit in my hands.

When I started reading, it did take a little while for me to get used to the format. I am a one-handed reader, and I tend to read while eating or drinking, or just keeping one hand warm under the blankets. That was a bit of a problem. This is definitely more of a two-handed book. When I forgot and held it at the middle with one hand, I could feel one side or the other wanting to go flopping over. As long as I remembered to hold it with two hands, it handled basically like a regular book.

My friend Julie was possibly even more excited than I was when I showed her this book trailer. She almost pre-ordered it right there, but she decided to use her gift card for more immediate gratification. When I received my copy, I told her that it was fairly short at 39 pages on each side. "Well, I'm glad I didn't pre-order it then. Something that short isn't worth the price of a novel." But then.

Oh, but then. I remembered to take it in to work so she could actually experience it herself. After much oohing, aahing, and petting, she finally managed to get out, "I should have ordered it when I had the gift card." So there you have it. It is worth the cost.

That should have sold you, but I'll go ahead and tell you about the story itself.

I've come across author Theodora Goss before, when I read her short story, "The Princess and the Hound of the Moon" and loved it. She's been on my radar ever since, but I haven't actually read any more of her work. When I saw this beautiful, unique book was written by an author whose work I had enjoyed, I knew this had to be a win.

My expectations for the story may have been a little too high. I'm not saying that there was anything wrong with it at all. I really liked it. I was hoping to be blown away, but that didn't happen.

I read Evelyn's story first. I was a little disappointed at the end. That was it? I wanted to know more! I was rooting for these star-crossed lovers. I needed to know what happened next. Then it dawned on me. Oh, wait. There is more. So I flipped to the other side and read Brendan's story.

The concept was familiar to me. I kept thinking of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle, a book that did blow me away. A short story, where there just couldn't be the same level of detail and involvement with the characters, suffered a little in comparison with a novel.

But just a little. I do enjoy short stories, and I've learned to enjoy chewing over the ones that aren't neatly wrapped up. For a book with two stories of 39 pages each, I got pretty involved with the characters, and even got a gigantic surprise or three. It's hard to pull that off in a short story.

Reading the same story from two different perspectives definitely enriched the experience for me. However, reading them both back to back got a little repetitive. I found myself skipping chunks of dialog in Brendan's story that I had just read in Evelyn's story. I don't think there was a way around this from a writing/editing standpoint, but if you're reading, I would recommend trying to wait a day or two in between the stories.

Highly recommended, primarily because of the unique format of the book, but also for an enjoyable story of star-crossed lovers. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Theodora Gossprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKowen, ScottIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to star-crossed lovers everywhere.
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By the time Evelyn arrived at the inn, she was tired, dirty, and hungry.
Brendan saw her before she saw him, a girl about his own age, wearing a gray cardigan, faded jeans, and sneakers.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 159474551X, Hardcover)

Featured Q & A with Theodora Goss

Q: How did the idea for this peculiar love story come about?

A: It all started last summer, when my editor called me. He had an idea: a book in an accordion format. He mentioned that, because the format would be so important, I might want to include a book in the story itself. I think that's when I first got the idea for The Book of the Green Knight. It was all there, in the proposal: the whole story, or at least the general outline of it. As for the love story itself, it's based in part on a real love story, or my imaginative interpretation of it. At some point, Evelyn and Brendan took over and started telling me what had happened to them. I think it always happens that way, when you're writing a book.

Q: How did the book's unique format influence the evolution of the story?

A: It made writing a technical challenge! First, I wrote Evelyn's story. Next, I wrote Brendan's story as I was reading Evelyn's, matching events and scenes. And then, I revised Evelyn's story based on Brendan's, and Brendan's based on Evelyn's. Each time, events from the other story would inform my writing or revisions. So something would happen in Brendan's story, and I would have to go back and make sure it happened in Evelyn's as well.

Q: Each side of the story is carefully written. How did you decide which details would go into Brendan's or Evelyn's story?

A: I don't think I decided, actually. While I was writing each story, I was completely in the mind of the character from whose perspective I was writing. So while I was writing Evelyn's story, I saw it from her perspective. I wrote what she would see and know. And the same for Brendan's story. I think that part of the writing process came more naturally than you might expect. The details that were important to these characters were the ones that ended up in their narratives.

Q: Where should a reader start, with Brendan's or Evelyn's story?

A: Readers can start with either story: each choice will give them a slightly different experience. And it might be a good idea, once you've finished both stories, to go back to the one you started with, because at that point you'll have a different understanding of it.

Q: There is so much evocative imagery throughout the book. Were you inspired by your own life or was it purely imagination?

A: It always seems to be both. I've never been to Cornwall, so the parts of the story set there are based in part on research. (I still remember looking at restaurant menus to figure out what you might eat for lunch in a Cornish restaurant.) But details are based on my own experiences. The forest is based on forests I've been in, and the scene in the woods was based on an actual experience, although it was certainly less fantastical than the one I describe. The university is definitely based on my own experiences! I've been a graduate student and faculty member, so I know what it's like in academia. But in the end, a book is never created entirely by its writer. Readers will imagine these things for themselves, each in a different way. The forest will be the forests they've walked through; the love story will be relationships they've experienced. And that's as it should be. That's what reading's all about--participating in the story.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:20 -0400)

Evelyn Morgan and Brendan Thorne are a couple whose mysterious and unique love story can be read from two different perspectives-- Evelyn's story reads from front to back, while Brendan's story is told from the back of the book towards the front.

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