The list of books within books and stories within stories is a surprisingly hefty one and Paris-based, Australian-born bookbinder, Alex Landragin, adds to it with this absorbing evocation of distinct historical periods and star-crossed lovers shot through with existential and philosophical modes of storytelling ... a compelling volume consisting of several rare and highly sought after fictional literary texts ... wily, complex, largely fascinating ... Suffused with myriad incarnations of the mystical and spiritual, as well as the grimy and gritty, Crossings achieves its metafictional literary goals and then some, offering up an excursion through time, human existence, philosophy, psychology, poetry, history and literature ... many, and convincing, richly rewarding tales ... Like the literary embodiment of a set of brightly painted Russian matryoshka nesting dolls, Landragin has succeeded in writing a multilayered work of speculative fiction that, at its best, had me thinking of David Mitchell’s experimental and engrossing Cloud Atlas ... Just as the dolls fit into one another, Crossings all makes sense at the end, neatly and satisfactorily resolving its multiple narrative threads and possibilities with grace, attention to detail and emotional acuity. No matter which narrative path a reader takes, there is no sense of confusion or dissatisfaction, just a little sadness at having to farewell such a fine book.
... weaves a remarkable tale across centuries, landscapes and human lives ... Each story is rich with characters, ideas and keenly imagined moments. The points of connection, however, are what make the text compelling and open to so much discovery ... As characters, objects and phrases appear and reappear, time blends, and the questions of what makes us who we are, how our choices impact our futures and how other people perceive us become central to the telling ... The prose is engaging, asking you to keep up as the story jumps from ending to beginning, tangling time and stretching the edge of what a narrative can do. There’s a tension between wanting to read quickly, to let yourself be absorbed in this fantastical and real world, or slowing down to allow each story to breathe. The beauty here is the multiplicity of the reading experiences, of the chance to do both, as each iteration of the novel asks different questions and demands a different mode of attention from the reader.
... a very clever, genre blend of literary, historical and speculative fiction ... a bizarre tale of love, adventure and mystery. The story lines, characters and settings are beautifully written ... had me enthralled from the very first sentences of the preface ... It should appeal to lovers of literary fiction, history, romance and the supernatural. I would definitely recommend it for book club discussions, particularly if half the group reads it the conventional way and the other half braves the unconventional approach!