Author: Rich Marcello
Genre: Literary Fiction
Ben Sanna, a lonely 75-year-old man, has been living in Hasman, Vermont since his divorce decades ago. He spends his days chopping wood, hiking with his senior dog, Zeke, and sharing a burger with his pals. Ben is known in town as an unofficial therapist. He has a gift for listening to a person’s verbal and nonverbal cues but is equally apt at hiding his own sadness.
Samantha Beckett, a traveling hedge fund professional, loves to use her beauty to keep herself in people’s, usually men’s, company. She prides herself on her ability to disappear and move on to her next work location and adventure. Doing this allows her to hide from her painful past and present health condition.
When Sam finds herself in Hasman and meets Ben, something clicks for them. The pair unlock something internal that the other needs: a true companion. They redefine the term soulmate to its essence, an organic companionship without sexual attraction or societal labels.
Marcello poetically immerses the reader into the characters’ journey as they face the demons of their past and learn to trust, and most importantly love, again. Any adult readers will be able to connect with both Ben and Samantha through their diverse musical tastes and timely conversations. There is some sexual content but nothing explicit, so the book is suitable for mature adolescents too.
The exploration of the ideas, especially societal ones, of love and soulmates, are fascinating. Ben and Samantha’s friendship teaches that sexual attraction does not need to be a component between two people in order for them to be able to have a deep, meaningful relationship. Their platonic relationship allowed them to confront their dark pasts and have hope for the future.
Readers will find a few novelties in the structuring of this book. One is that each chapter has two parts, one from Ben’s point of view and the other from Sam’s, which is unorthodox but feels organic. The perspectives give thoughtful-provoking insights to the characters’ decisions and the circumstances they live in. In each chapter, Ben and Sam’s perspectives allow readers to feel their connection strengthen, which is an extraordinary gift for a writer to do.
Interestingly, Marcello writes the flashback scenes in the present tense and the rest of the story in the past. One might think this would turn a reader off to the story, but this technique actually enthralls them more with the character’s history and allows the reader to empathize with them more.
Some dialogue, both external and internal, is a little tangential in some areas and doesn’t add much to the story. However, the witty characters and beautiful prose more than make up for those infrequent parts. Major and minor characters are distinct and interesting, which makes the character-driven plot exciting and emotive.
Marcello’s prose is quietly gorgeous. The rhythm of his words will wrap you up in the character’s love and soothe you like a lullaby. Everyone should read Cenotaphs, because Ben and Samantha will stay with readers for years to come and push them to “dorasee” their fellow humans. This book has the power to make the world a little kinder.
This Editorial Review was written by the Book Review Directory staff. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.