Reviews

The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy

karenks's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional hopeful inspiring mysterious reflective sad tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

5.0

kberry_co's review against another edition

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2.0

This book read much more like a series of short stories. It seemed as though I was only given a slice of each story, with so much missing information and lack of detail it felt very incomplete. I really enjoyed the premise of the story line, different individuals across the world and across time and how their lives are interconnected, but the execution was poor.

book_concierge's review against another edition

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4.0

3.5*** (rounded up)

From the book jacket This gripping novel – inspired by true events – tells the interwoven stories of a German infantryman; a British film director; a young, blind museum curator; two Jewish American newlyweds separated by war; and a caretaker at a retirement home for actors in Santa Monica. They move through the same world but fail to perceive their connections until, through seemingly random acts of selflessness, a veil is lifted to reveal the vital parts they have played in one another’s lives, and the illusion of their separateness.

My reactions
Van Booy tells this interwoven story from different perspectives and in different time periods. We meet Martin, the caretaker at the retirement home in 2010 Los Angeles first; next we watch Mr Hugo in Manchester England teaching a little boy, Danny, to read in 1981; in 1968 a young boy plays in and around the remains of a downed plane he finds in the forest in France; John snaps a picture of his girlfriend at Coney Island in 1942; Amelia learns to live with her blindness in New York in 2005. And the chapters continue in a seemingly random fashion, introducing new characters, returning to revisit them, skipping back and forth in time, and occasionally giving the reader a glimpse of a connection between their stories. The final paragraph ties it all together for us in one stunningly simple phrase.

The writing is poetic and fluid. I felt immersed in the story, and was never disoriented by the changing perspectives or time lines. Some scenes are horrific, especially during the war. But the author does not leave the reader in these horrible circumstances for long; there are also scenes of great tenderness and kindness. Throughout we see how a small act of kindness – or cruelty – can reverberate through time and across continents.

That being said, I was left somewhat dissatisfied. I cannot quite put my finger on why I felt this way, but there were times when I felt that Van Booy was trying too hard, that the coincidences / connections were too clever.

Having finished it, I was so looking forward to my F2F book club meeting, but the discussion leader failed to show up and the conversation fizzled out too quickly for me. I want to read it again, and I would definitely read another book by this author.

forgereads17's review against another edition

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dark emotional hopeful reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

vegprincess's review against another edition

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5.0

At first I wasn't sure about this book but now I am. It's pure beauty and I loved it.

lynnea713's review against another edition

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4.0

It took me a bit to get into the flow of the story and it felt a bit choppy... and then I couldn't seem to stop reading. Before I knew it, it was finished, and beautifully so. It was a very quick read and came together nicely.

ashima's review against another edition

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emotional reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

elymomo's review against another edition

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3.0

Quanto possiamo andare indietro con la memoria? Quanto possiamo conoscere del passato delle nostra famiglia? Cosa ci lega a persone che non conosceremo mai, o che abbiamo incrociato per poco, lungo il cammino? “L’illusione della separatezza”, con una copertina un po’ imbarazzante da romanzetto rosa, ha un titolo bellissimo che ricorda che siamo legati da fili invisibili a chi ci circonda. Ci sono radici che condividiamo senza saperlo e le nostre scelte influenzano perfetti sconosciuti. Un libro scritto in modo evocativo a tratti, ma che di interessante ha proprio l’assunto: quell’illusione che tutti coltiviamo e che disvela invece una realtà che ci rende tutti parte di un Racconto senza fine.

ja3m3's review against another edition

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5.0

Inspired by true events this brilliant and beautiful book effortlessly shows how one event - one choice can vibrate through time and continue to impact countless lives. Nothing is random because all of our choices double back and reveal the illusions of separateness. This has become my favorite book of 2014 - highly recommend.

ghazaale's review against another edition

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emotional lighthearted mysterious relaxing fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes

5.0