Title: A Place of Timeless Harmony
Author: Curt Eriksen
Genre: Literary Fiction
A Place of Timeless Harmony is about a couple, Richard and Sofie, who go on a romantic vacation to the African safari. But they are carrying secrets that are weighing heavily on their hearts, and the two realize that no matter how much they hide from each other, not opening up about the darkness within is only hurting their chance at love.
Richard and Sofie have been together for three years–unbeknownst to his wife and two children. Richard, a wealthy businessman, thinks he’s managed to sort out the complications in his life. He assumes he can maintain his sexless, loveless marriage to raise his children while also enjoying companionship with Sofie. The novel is heavily character-driven, creating an intimate and raw reading experience.
When Richard finds out he isn’t as in control of his life as he thinks, his distress drags Sofie down with him. Following her own series of mistakes, in hopes to cope with the lack of control in her own life, Sophie resents Richard for living a life they can only share in secret. Both Richard and Sofie’s characters are well-developed, with their virtues and vices fleshed out. Emotional and relatable, the couple’s internal struggles are sincere and build the foundation for the novel’s storyline.
Because the novel focuses mostly on the couple’s internal battles, Richard and Sofie’s perspectives dominate throughout. However, scenes that shift perspective to secondary characters often offer a more compelling view of the couple’s dynamic. The inclusion of these different perspectives more frequently throughout the novel could have helped further develop the main characters in a way other than how they perceive themselves.
The highlight of the novel is the second half of the second chapter, which switches perspectives every few pages between Richard and Sofie. While Richard seeks out “faith” to cope with a fatal discovery he makes about himself, Sofie goes on a tour of the safari and witnesses a lion hunting a buffalo. The violent, but natural and beautiful scene of the animals fighting acts as an analogy for the destructive relationship Richard and Sofie have created, making it one of the most intense parts of the story. The switching between the two perspectives keeps the pace of the novel fast and builds tension between the lovers, leaving the reader rooting for all parties to survive.
Without much action in the plot, sometimes the many symbols and metaphors that Eriksen uses to shape the characters and novel’s purpose feel unbalanced and a bit too obvious. Thus, in its attempt to be symbolic, the novel’s ending can be received as a bit unsatisfactory.
Secrecy, love, and uncertainty fill the pages of this short but rich novel. Its emotional characters, vibrant imagery, and profound themes leave readers remembering that sometimes love just isn’t enough to overcome the emptiness that resides within. Readers of A Place of Timeless Harmony will question their own struggles to come to terms with the “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve” feelings in their lives and understand that what happens in the dark will eventually come to light.
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