Friday, April 23, 2010

Ben Farmer's EVANGELINE Reviewed in ForeWord Magazine

Ben Farmer's debut novel Evangeline is reviewed in the May/June issue of ForeWord Magazine: "In one of several retellings of the legend of Evangeline, Farmer boldly writes into a classic; his words interlace with Longfellow’s first epic poem, published in 1847. Longfellow’s Evangeline: A Tale of Arcadie reawakened audiences to a part of this continent’s oppressive history, and Farmer’s version of the tale stands to do likewise. Responsive to issues of colonialism, Farmer calls attention to the “cruel circumstance…that insists this tale of deportation and wandering be told, as it was a century and a half ago, in the language of the conqueror.” The author teaches high school and also instructs through this work of fiction.

Beyond the shared historical context and the legend’s general plot, Farmer’s novel does not compare to the nineteenth-century work that served as its impetus; this telling is of another genre entirely. A historical romance written in unadorned prose, Farmer’s Evangeline will satisfy readers who allow themselves to swoon, who enjoy sentimentality. The book has saccharine tendencies (“Gabriel’s trusting smile in response made her heart ache”), but it remains endearing. “A rival of mine once complained that my stories begin awkwardly and end untidily.” This opening sentence is not a warning sign; it’s an invitation to a kind of fiction that’s underrepresented in U.S. bookstores." - Janelle Adsit

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