HAVE YOU EVER LOST YOUR PARENT?
For this reader who never knew his father, this novel, or fictional memoir, was heartwarmingly therapeutic to read. The Memories of Eskar Wilde by E. H. Wilde was heartwarming because it features the theme of getting through the loss and grief of losing your father. Ultimately, it was beautiful to read what it’s like to mourn the death of such an important person in a child’s life. The way Ms. Wilde shows this through her main character, Eskar, proves the delicate nature she used to make sure the theme connects with readers. I imagine, if you had a fantastic father like Eskar, it would inspire you to maintain his legacy and save him from the third death, too. But the author doesn’t stop there. She adds characters that’ll make you feel a deeper emotion toward maintaining a distinguished father’s legacy, showing the importance through Eskar’s want of maintaining the memory of his father for himself and his family members. However, I must cutoff that thought because the best part of this novel was experiencing these moments spontaneously. This coming-of-age novel isn’t simply a must-read or page-turner, it’s a must-experience, and if you have a respected father like Eskar did, it’s a must-remember to memorialize what made him deeply admired so these details are known by the coming generations.
That’s why the focus of my in-depth review for Ms. Wilde’s book is the theme, because it’s the part of the book that will last the longest in your soul. The theme of getting through the trauma of suddenly losing your parent extends to some of the other characters, but sharing them would require a spoiler warning. The best moments that I can share without spoiling starts with Eskar setting up the memories of his father as a person, how this leads to his realization that the home his father purchased would never be shared with him, and finishing off with the scene where he can’t hold back his grief manifesting through a song he composed for his father.
Saving his father from the third death starts from the very beginning of Eskar’s fictional memoir, and this is most evident when he breaks the fourth wall and relates, “I’ll provide you with objective descriptions and what I know of how others perceived [him]” (3). So, with this information, the author has set up the way Eskar wants to display his father, and the expectation is met in the next paragraph when he reveals his “father was perceived by others to be rather tall, though he was only 180 cm in height. I suppose it was his impressive [demeanor] and the way he held himself so confidently that gave the appearance of a taller man” (3). He then goes onto describe his father’s nose as crooked, and shows why his father has a childhood nickname that could be seen as an insult but his father “apparently didn’t entirely mind as he was well liked at school and the nickname was used jovially, rather than in a bullying way” (3-4). As this section in chapter one continues, Eskar shows the backstory about how his father became a Francophile about everything French, especially the wine. There’s more beautiful descriptions and backstory but these are clues and I don’t want to say too much about them, only that upon my second read, they became evidence of how meticulously the author crafted her story.
THE IMPACT OF LOURMARIN
The evidence of wordsmith mastery does not stop there, it continues throughout, but it is undeniable when Eskar and his mother arrive at Lourmarin, France, to stay at the farmhouse his father purchased before his sudden death. When reading it, you’ll feel like you’re there taking in the sights. The way Eskar explains what he sees evokes the notion that this farmhouse is a grand example of what a Provencal-style farmhouse a.k.a. mas in France looks like; for example, he conveys, “To the left of the [farmhouse], I discerned a breathtaking… ancient stone archway covered in… unkept climbing roses. Set within a low stone wall bordered by untamed hedges, it looked like a portal to another world—one evoking images of hobbits and bizarre tea parties” (41). These allusions to classic literature also connect to the language and the way Ms. Wilde used a classical writing style for her prose to give Eskar’s fictional memoir a timeless appeal. Then the descriptions include the sense of smell as if you could take a deep breath as you read, feeling the way the “light breeze suddenly conveyed a heady mixture of Provencal essences… a field of lavender just beyond the hedged wall and portal” (41). But as the beauty of his family farmhouse is shown, Ms. Wilde brings the theme back into focus by having Eskar narrate, “This only made worse the sense of loss that I was feeling, my heart aching unbearably at the thought of not being able to share this beautiful retreat with Father” (41). It’s heartwarming sentences like this one that make you want to give Eskar a hug, which is another example of the heartfelt approach Ms. Wilde took while writing her novel.
The last example I want to share is one of many wow moments I experienced as a reader. But this one is special because it shows Eskar’s prodigious talent as a pianist and the amount of love he has for his father. In the scene, he’s playing the piano, but the important part is the song he’s playing. It starts when Eskar explains, “I had been working on a new composition for some time as a surprise for Father’s birthday… Father would never hear it now, of course, but there was no other person for whom I would debut the piece than my mother” (44). Later in the paragraph he reveals, “I began to play it, a joyful piece that I’d composed to be reminiscent of laughter. However, as my thoughts turned to my upcoming thirteenth birthday and the plans that would now never be [realized], I found myself swapping the major chords for minors and holding the notes that I had originally composed as staccato. This transformed it into a beautiful but melancholic piece which, far from laughter, reflected my grief, pain and anger. It was confronting, powerful, and unexpectedly cathartic. I didn’t [realize] that I was crying as I played until I finished and felt the salty tears on my lips” (44). This display of mastery makes me want to continue showing you the scene, but that would reveal too much since this is a crucial plot point meant to introduce more elements that add to the theme. Nevertheless, “Bravo, Ms. Wilde, bravo!”
THE FINAL BOW
After this point, the examples of Eskar keeping his father from experiencing the third death get better and more profound, especially when you consider the whodunnit or mystery component of the plot, and that’s precisely why I’m stopping here. I’d love to get into them, but adding these examples would spoil the read since the best part of the reading experience was each moment’s ability to surprise you with how heartwarming they are. The entire novel is about maintaining his father’s legacy, and solving his father’s mysteries, for the narrator and his family’s closure. It’s evident that Eskar wrote his fictional memoir for this very purpose, so that every mystery surrounding his father is solved.
The throwback style of Ms. Wilde’s writing made the novel feel like it would fit in seamlessly with the books I read while majoring in English, making it a brilliant choice for anyone who loves the classics. One of the elements making it classical was the use of French to create a three-dimensional world, but sometimes I had no idea what I was reading, so I felt like Joey Tribbiani in that episode where he tries to speak French. Like Joey, my limited knowledge of anything French meant I didn’t understand many of the French references. This is why the footnotes are crucial to anyone with my background understanding the times Ms. Wilde uses French, especially in the dialogue. This also helps when she writes about the sites in Paris, making you feel as if you’re venturing with Eskar, a most sophisticated tour guide. Another part I couldn’t get into was the character, Brie; without getting into why, this book will be enjoyable for cat lovers. There’s so much more that showcases Ms. Wilde’s fantastic writing, and this made it hard to review The Memories of Eskar Wilde without spoiling the read.
But I can’t wrap up the review without telling you that chapter seven will captivate you to the point where you won’t realize how fast time went by as you read. The following chapter will impress you with its intensity, inspiring you to take a break to soak it all in. Chapter fifteen will leave you breathless, since you’ll feel like rereading it to make sure you didn’t miss any poignant details. And the full circle ending, it will make you nod with me because we’ll agree it was superb. And since you’ll read the prologue, you’ll know why, if I could tell Eskar, I’d tell him, “You are an author, cheers!”
Thank you for reading our book review about The Memories of Eskar Wilde by E. H. Wilde. We are not affiliated with the publisher, but here’s the link to pick up a copy.
E. R. Sanchez is the author of Fried Potato Press’ first young adult thriller, Petaco Dreams, which will be released in 2024 after the rewrite, new title and cover. He also has poems and stories published online and in print. If you’d like to read his work that was published online, please click here to go to his Stories and Poetry Section.