Book review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Sometimes, there was a tree.

Near where two footpaths met in the park, an unassuming tree, more than a sapling but not yet mature. The sort of tree you would not remark when you walked past it. The sort of tree you would not remark when you did not walk past it.

The world is a strange place. Under the cover of everyday mundanity, things shift and change. For Piranesi, in the House, things change too: the tide rolls in through its endless rooms, he waits upon visits of the Other, the only other living man he knows, and the seagulls nest. It is the only world he knows.

“The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.”

It is quiet too, with the quiet of another liminal place: the Wood Between the Worlds in The Magician’s Nephew. Like that Wood, it is a junction between different worlds while being itself a place of forgetting.

Piranesi is the story of one who gets lost, for a while in the Wood Between the Worlds, in one of those liminal places where worlds meet. It is a marvellous story and, like all the best stories, it carries the stamp of Truth.

Sometimes, there was a tree.


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