Lemongrass Hope by Amy Impellizzeri
Published By: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing (@wymac), 8 October, 2014
Official Author Websites:
Site | @AmyImpellizzeri | Blog | Facebook | Author Page on WMP
Available Formats: Trade Paperback Page Count: 304
Genre(s): Fiction | Romance | Magical Realism | Time Travel | Literary Fiction
Converse via: #LemongrassHope
Acquired Book By: I crossed paths with the author of “Lemongrass Hope” on Twitter, as she contacted me in regards to receiving an ARC copy of her debut novel which publishes this Autumn. This was in late May and I was hoping to review the book in mid to late June. However, due to different personal reasons I had to extend my post until July. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the author Amy Impellizzeri, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Inspired to Read:
What originally captivated me by Lemongrass Hope was the premise of the story itself – a mirror into a life which would have a unique style of delivery. At least I murmured a hope that this novel would carry with it a unique craft of story and one that not only could be a mirth of joy to read but would encourage me to draw a pensive eye once the story concluded. I love stories which engage my mind as readily as my heart — stories which drive me to think about the dimensions of the story as it slowly tumbles through and out of my memory. To carry with me a bit further than the reading itself and impart a lasting impression of what was conveyed through the pen of the author. I felt such a strong pull to reading Lemongrass Hope; I was over the moon in gratitude for the author to have expressed an interest in giving it to me to read.
I have had a building interest in reading this novel as due to various personal reasons, I have wanted to read a story that has a central theme of ‘hope’ building inside its central heart of narrative. I wanted to read something inspiring and something a bit magical at the same time — a story to take me outside the realm of the everyday and transition into this beautiful place that exists between this world and the next. I love reading Magical Realism stories and watching them on television as I mentioned on my review for The Silent Touch of Shadows for this very reason. I was meant to start reading Lemongrass Hope on Tuesday, the 22nd of July — however a severe allergic reaction cut my plans short! Thankfully, due to homeopathic medicine I was able to come down from the fog of my initial medicine and soak into the story! A day where disappearing from the angst of allergies and reactions therein, this particular story alighted itself into the forefront of my mind and heart. Stories are like that,… they tend to arrive in our lives of a timing that cannot be measured by conventional means but felt by our hearts.
Set in the past, and present, Lemongrass Hope is a captivating and unpredictable love story, with a dose of magical realism and time travel, that fans of authors such as Audrey Niffenegger, Alice Hoffman, and Toni Morrison will appreciate and embrace. Like Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, Lemongrass Hope weaves together ordinary lives and events to tell an extraordinary tale of connection, loss, renewal, and of course, hope. As Kate Sutton’s decade-long marriage to Rob erodes and unravels, Kate fears that the secrets she guards from the world, including Rob’s emergency room proposal, and a whirlwind love affair from her past, have always doomed her fate.
When she unwittingly receives a glimpse at what her life could have been like had she made different choices all those years ago, it is indeed all she could have ever wanted. A confirmation of her greatest hope, and her greatest fears.
Lemongrass Hope will draw you in with characters so relatable and real, you will cheer for them one moment and flinch the next. A tale that invites you to suspend disbelief—or perhaps decide to believe once and for all— in the potent power of love and connection over time and choice.
Oh, and the dress. There’s this lemongrass dress . . .
A reformed corporate litigator with a background of survival and renewal, Amy Impellizzeri has been writing since childhood, but ended a long hiatus from personal writing after a plane crashed in her residential neighborhood in 2001, killing everyone on board and five of her neighbors, as she started on a journey of guilt and healing, detailed in her essay, Unscathed. After 13 years in the cutthroat world of corporate law, including a decade at a top Manhattan law firm, Impellizzeri left to write and advocate for entrepreneurial women, eventually landing at the investor-backed start-up company, Hybrid Her, named by ForbesWoman as a Top Website for Women in 2010 and 2011 (and recently rebranded as ShopFunder, LLC) while working on her first novel, Lemongrass Hope, and her first non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted, scheduled to be published by the American Bar Association in 2015.
Her essays and articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, The Glass Hammer, Divine Caroline, and ABA’s Law Practice Today, among more.
Time as a vortex of transportation:
Time is in the background of Lemongrass Hope, as Kate has a propensity for shifting time forward and backwards with the ease of her mind’s ability to draw forth the memories she both wants to forget and hope she’s overcome. Her path is to seek a bit of redemptive hope out of going back over her choices and of recollecting where those choices led her on her lifepath. Time for all its measurements is both elusive and transcending as the chapters drift between your fingers, as you lose yourself in the timescape of where Kate is leading the story to go forward. She tempts you with a rhythm that is of her choosing and a realisation that time cannot always be undone.
My Review of Lemongrass Hope:
Stories alight in our hands at a timing of their own reckoning, and this particular story has a rhythmic tone as individual as the author’s path who penned the tale. Lemongrass Hope has a unique narrative voice which curls inside your mind’s eye as you soak in the grace of the writer’s prose. Etched into the gracefulness of her turns of phrase and of placing us inside Botswana as we enter into the story’s setting, is a subtle nudge towards nibbling into the human condition and the emotional arc of how healing involves an acknowledge of thought, feeling, and evoking ruminations. The stage is set quite nicely for a complex story filled with characters who are already in-progress on a journey – towards an enlightenment driven out of their choice of purpose and the textural landscape of where their path will lead them.
The story starts off in segmented pieces of scenes depicting certain moments within the lives of the characters which is imperative and important to take stock of, yet their meaning and definitions come into meaning lateron. The Prologue presents a thesis of direction, of a willingness to rewind time and of accepting our destiny as a walkway which can be walked and followed, yet given the murmurings of free will is not always a visible line. The first three chapters are time shifts between 1997, 2011, and 2009 — little seedlings of where Kate and Ian were at distinctive snapshots of ‘time’ within the sphere of their living hours. Their innermost thoughts are woven into the fabric of the narrative which gives us an intrapersonal connection to them rather instinctively.
The mind is a curious portal: emotions, memories, the elasticity of hope, and a renewing sense of place & time. Impellizzeri’s unique style of telling this story is not jolting but encouraging, the transitions of the years which might appear to be disjointed are actually a telling sense of reason behind the fury of emotional anguish in Kate. The pattern of the novel is one that I found pleasing because it encourages a new sense of how a story can be set, told, and presented. Kate is in desperate need of a respite from her life, to take a step back from motherhood and marriage; both of which have consumed her with a vacuuming effect of loss of self. The internal struggle for order and any sense of logic to have arrived at a point of place in her marriage where infidelity and an absence of love had shattered the tethering of her spirit. Her mind was a minefield of emotional turmoil plaguing her with ruminative flashbacks and haunting memories of each decisive choice she made to arrive where she was on her path. To be the Mum of Michael and David, wedded to Ian and wistfully hopeful there was a way ‘out’ of where she currently was living to a life that made a heap more sense.
The story is a mind map of the central character’s life; etched out of emotions & the curious speculative heart for a confluence of logical explanation for why her life took the course it had. Benton is the unexpected best friend who inadvertently introduced Kate to Rob and Ian; the two blokes who are central to the distress of Kate’s fevered mind. Rob is the bloke who drifted past Kate’s orb, whilst Ian settled into her heart and therefore stole her passion. Ian enraptured a sense of adventure bolstered by a theory of time travel through a drink native to Botswana; a country where he worked inside as a journalist. Rob had the unfortunate timing of being just a shy step short of entering her life at a moment in which she was ready for falling in love.
I need to sort out how to properly make homemade curry, as this novel and others in its wake have encouraged me to the pursuit! I fear my favourite Indian restaurant closed shoppe without another to take its place. Curry is the meal that speaks to the soul, and the heart is always mindful of the warmth this cosy-comfort food encourages you to savour whilst the naan you consume adds the nosh to become a heightened joy of culinary delight! I admit, I felt a bit envious of Kate & Ian! Their entire relationship was centered around curry and the serendipitous nature of two souls crossing paths within the hours one does not expect to find romance and the mirth of soul-connected relationship.
Ian’s path took him forward into a lively professional traveller position as a writer whereas Kate staid true to her course as a college Professor. She opted for the original bloke she was set-up to date on a blind lark suggestion by Benton. The friend Kate abandons out of the truth her heart is acknowledging about which bloke her soul feels mated and of which bloke she is merely sharing space and time. To dissolve a friendship out of the ashes of a lost love and relationship is not logical but then again, neither is love. Love is a leap of trust as much as faith. You have to jump with a measure of belief that you’re following where your heart leads and the path will ring true for you.
The ending will leave you lost in your thoughts about hope, life, love, and the daring reality of changing your stars on your own accord of how your living truth can set you free. Kate’s story has a pace and rhythm uniquely it’s own; a bit how it would be to tell a stranger in a confluence of conversations your own’s life story. It would come out a bit out of order, a bit out of focus from time of the original events, but the beauty would be in the telling of the story itself. In how the lessons you learnt along the corridor of your life not only strengthened you but graced your life with a bounty of blessings you had not fully seen or understood until the day arrived where the last piece of your tapestry’s puzzle fit together quite perfectly.
Fair warning: You will forsake sleep to finish this novel, as the story attaches to your spirit and the heart of your soul. And, once it it is put down, you will wish for ‘another chapter’, another moment within this world. I had such a personal reaction to this novel, I can only hope the words I’ve left upon concluding it will honour the legacy it will give to the next reader who consumes it’s message. My throat was emotionally choked, tears not yet having left my eyes, and a gratitude I felt as deep as a well for being given the blessing of reading this story,… right here, and ‘now’.
Marriage, Relationships, and the In-Between Moments of Reconciliation:
Impellizzeri has a rather eloquent approach to the craft of story-telling, as she draws you further into her narrative voice with each paragraph you read, as her choices of how a story is told is quite receptively keen on the introspection of her characters; allowing you the full advantage of listening, hearing, and sensing their emotional state of being. She captures the bits and bobbles of a life in the staging bits of transition and the anxiety of finding yourself in a relationship that is either about to dissolve or repair itself through a bridge in communication. She cleverly has Kate referencing the appeal of reading Eat Pray Love in an effort to connect another women’s marital plight to her own. As I read those passages I thought back on two motion pictures of equal merit and value: Must Love Dogs and Under the Tuscan Sun.
As an aside, being a singleton myself I appear to have an kinetic attraction to stories of divorce as more oft than naught, I am nestled inside either a motion picture or a story in fiction that evolves through the catalyst of relationships. I believe this has to do with my attraction and appreciation of a sociological viewing on humanity, as the lens in which these stories reside is an intimate voicing of the human heart and soul. To expand on the fragility of our personal experiences as much as the process of how we think and access what we are going through as we live our lives. I like the internal analysis these particular stories provide as much as the forethought of the writers to temper what we might conventionally surmise; as found inside the passages which eclipse clarity and distinctive individualism as well.
*note to self: must read the other novels in order to offer further insight on my reflections
*note to readers and visitors: ironically or not, I was not aware the films were based on books whilst seeing them
Marriages of convenience hold within them hidden evidences of romance built around indecision and fear of loneliness. The heart tugs the truth into our minds but truth, like faith is not always something we want to swallow nor accept. To be humble enough to recognise the wrong choice before we take the course we’re walking along would be a beautiful experience in foresight but humans are oft blinded and muddled by our emotional hearts and our souls are bled dry from wrestling with our logical whispers of the unknown. We walk boldly onto the path we choose, even if the future proves to lead to a deep felt sea of remorse.
Impellizzeri found a footing for yielding a story through the myriad labyrinth of a woman’s mind, especially in the manner in which Lemongrass Hope spilts out onto the page. Her words encourage a pensive awareness whilst you read her novel and carry yourself along the emotional memories of Kate as a sense of one soul’s journey towards acceptance and understanding.
On the unique writing style of Amy Impellizzeri:
I appreciated Impellizzeri knitting into her story the elements of what a thirty-something would contemplate, especially from a strong point-of-view of both lead characters. Memories of Baby Boom floated to mind, even though the circumstances towards motherhood differed, Kate had found in Rob the same indifference as Diane Keaton had found inside the character Harold Ramis had portrayed. Professional women who never viewed themselves outside the professional track of their trade, yet observant of other women and the choices they made within their own lives all the same. It is curious timing my reading of Lemongrass Hope to the reading of Love’s Promises (although I oft speak of the serendipitous nature of my reading life and how I oft realise that books alight in my hand to read at a timing that is right in the moment for me to greet them): two separate novelists writing about a thematic I have always appreciated seeing explored. (you’ll also denote my appreciation for stories set in ‘motion’ or in ‘written’ mediums are equally favoured; hence my cross-references for motion pictures and books in print tend to blur into each other) Outside the scope of motherhood, yet focused on marriage both of these novels I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading paint a portrait of honestly real women exploring their personal stances on faith, love, children, marriage, and the singleton life they always felt deeply attached too. Working Girl always left a strong impression (and oh so very quotatable!) next to Baby Boom, and lest I forget to mention Three Men & a Baby which opens the door from a completely turn of face point-of-view! And, who did not rally for Steve Martin’s character in A Simple Twist of Fate?!
One author I want to encourage myself to read next is Jane Porter, who writes Contemporary Romances of equal thought-provoking narratives, where the vein of questioning one’s path and deciding on what is one’s true path to follow is as unique as the characters who bring those lifepaths to life. It is such a strong appeal to read about characters experiencing an arc of a life shift and in full choice of where their futures lie if they are willing to wrestle out their emotional heart and allow themselves the ability to lead a truer life forward on a path that will enrich as much as it will stabilise their needs. I recently crossed paths with Mari Passananti and her novel ‘The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken’ spoke to me at ‘hallo’ as well. How lovely then, that August is the ‘Read A Romance Month? (#ReadARomanceMonth – perhaps you saw the badge in my lower sidebar winking at you?) My forthcoming thoughts intertwined into this online bookish event are forthcoming next on Jorie Loves A Story!
On a singular personal level:
full gratitude for this not being a traditional story with a heart-wrecking cancer sideline.
Instead it was inspiring and full of hope.
Hope is a big part of this story.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: