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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
The Sorrow's Garden: A Novel by Anthony Carinhas is set in the period just before World War II. Radulf Berliner is a compelling character in the way he is developed and in his personality, an architect and writer in Leipzig, Germany. If he hates one thing in people, it is their selfishness and mindless behavior and this is reflected in his treatment of Franziska, a girlfriend whom he claims threatened to tell everyone he is a fraud if he broke up with her. He puts her in a very embarrassing experience, with paintings of her nude pictures found in a men’s restroom. But he is worse than what he hates in others —a surprising irony! The reader encounters a character who is manipulative, intimidating, and who embraces duplicity. He lives by the philosophy that no one should ever turn against him, so he puts fear into people’s minds to keep them under control. This is a strong narrative with themes of art, education, relationships, manipulation, and murder.
Anthony Carinhas is a great storyteller who transforms the ordinary experience of characters into fodder that nurtures the plot and makes it exceptional, infusing it with realism and humanity. While I detested the cockiness of Radulf and his manipulative nature, I enjoyed how well the author explored this aspect of human nature, and this reflects the way of life of the society that produced this character. No doubt, the sense of humanity would be put to the test with the rise of the likes of Hitler. The prose is beautiful and given that it explores the theme of art, the aesthetics in the writing are just fitting for the genre. The Sorrow's Garden: A Novel is one of the finest novels that diligently and expertly explore the pervasive aspect of human nature, with a protagonist that curiously engages readers, a man who finds creative genius in the adrenaline rush from stress. It is captivating and hugely entertaining.