The Book of Two Ways (2020)
Author – Jodi Picoult
Genre – Romance
Page Count – 416 pages
Egypt and its pyramids will always be a subject of fascination for most people – something that looks so ordinary on the outside but is a treasure of secrets and history still in the process of being unraveled.
Jodi Picoult takes us on a literary journey to Egypt, quantum mechanics and philosophy of death and mortality so convoluted that I was left asking about the meaning of this book.
In case the reader has any problem figuring out the premise of the book, the author conveniently merges together Schrodinger’s cat and The Book of Two Ways – an Ancient Egyptian text – to explain the existence of two possibilities after a decision.
After a plane crash, Dawn’s life takes two different paths – one which takes her back to Egypt, the life she had left behind along with Wyatt, her colleague and former lover, and the other to Boston, to her husband, Brian and daughter, Meret. But they both ultimately lead to the same point, which might have been the real message of the book but its difficult to tell.
SOME THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT THE BOOK
Picoult turns out to be a great researcher as she creates incredible scenic descriptions of excavations. One of the most tolerable aspects of the book is Dawn’s love of Egyptology and even though she diverges and becomes a death doula, the frequent comparison with her present and the Egyptian history made for an incredible read.
On the same track, the author tries her best to delve deep into the philosophy of death and mortality and the number of ways people avoid it. Her job as a death doula – a person who stays with a patient during their last days – gives her enough experience to see the effects of imminence on people.
If the book did not have a love story driving it, the Egyptology sections along with the easy reading mortal philosophy would have made the book decent.
THINGS I DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THE BOOK
The one thing which caused me a lot of frustration in the book was Dawn’s justification of her behavior. She makes the same mistakes as her husband and Wyatt, her Egyptology boyfriend, but looks at it in a more forgiving manner than she does for either of them.
The book in fact made me think quite a lot about the idea that when we make a mistake, we blame it on outside forces but when others do, we believe that its a fault in them.
For all its beautiful research and setting, the book is extremely average and frustrating to the point of annoyance. The book is being marketed as ‘literary fiction’ but its simply a romance with good background study.
All the characters are hateful and incredible idea of diverging paths and what-ifs make for a good blurb but not a good novel.
I haven’t read any other Jodi Picoult so I don’t know if this is an anomaly instead of a trend but I won’t be picking up this author for a while atleast.