Perched above the Indian Ocean and surrounded by lush foliage that blocks out everything but the sea--sweet frangipani, jasmine, and wild orchid--the Hotel Salama is an unlikely place to conduct research. Proud, sharp-tongued, and solitary by disposition, Ingrid Holtz arrives at the hotel in search of her professor, Nick Templeton, to whom she is drawn by interests of a more than academic nature. Templeton is a maverick, as much reviled for his unconventional methods as he is envied for his results. His latest theory has driven him to the island of Pelat, to unravel a legend about an ancient African king said to have brought Islam to the Swahili coast. No one has heard from him in months.
Tangled in a mystery whose clues lurk in the pages of the Koran, and transported into a world where women are possessed by spirit husbands and fresh curses are whispered over tea, Ingrid is forced to realize that there are many things she does not know about this man who inhabits her dreams and haunts her mind. With the help and hindrance of Finn Bergmann, the enigmatic son of the founder of Salama, she begins to uncover a web of alarming incidents. Templeton's research has carried him to the hot core of the island's darkest confrontation. How far will he go in his passion for the truth? What is he willing to do to protect his newfound faith--and where has he gone? Ingrid embarks on a quest that opens her heart and threatens to unravel her mind.
An epic tale of love and faith, An Obvious Enchantment marks the debut of a stunning new literary talent. It is a story about desire--for love, for knowledge, and for God--and about our capacity to ensnare ourselves in the deceptive architecture of our own dreams. Like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, it plunges you from the first page into a sensuous world of seductive characters and duplicitous charm, a world alive with color and atmosphere from which it is hard to emerge without wanting to return.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Tucker Malarkey's accomplished first novel follows the trail of a young anthropology researcher as she tries to locate her beloved elderly mentor, who appears to be missing. Ingrid Holtz knows that Professor Templeton has been searching for clues to the existence of an African king who he believes brought monotheism to the Swahili Coast as much as three centuries before the arrival of Islam, paving the way for the quick conversion of the region. She worries that Templeton (a figure not unlike her father) may be losing his mind, or that he has put himself in danger. Although there is a European enclave on the island of Pelat, none of the colonials seem especially helpful to Ingrid. They barely know Templeton, who avoided their hangout at the Salama Hotel bar, and what little they know his student must slowly prize free over afternoon beers. The natives and the Kenyan-born whites are another matter; they know a great deal, she suspects, but she must constantly battle their sexism and their distrust.
One night Ingrid goes to the Salama with notes from Templeton's journals, hoping to attract the assistance of Finn Bergmann, a handsome yet chronically drunk and evasive European-Kenyan, whose father built the Salama Hotel. But Bergmann slinks away, and Ingrid is left writing anguished, talismanic notes on a cocktail napkin: "Templeton, I need you. Please appear."
She let the ink of her pen bleed onto the words until they were illegible, suddenly certain that he was not coming. She finished her whiskey and, when she felt the panic surging back, ordered another. What are you afraid of, Ingrid? Tricks of momentum? Why have you come all this way?Ingrid is left to find her own strange allies on the island, as well as unexpected enemies. Along the way, she must continue to adjust her ideas of what it means to be a woman and alone, surrounded by people who believe in the unseen and who watch her for signs of possession by an evil spirit. The real question is whether Malarkey's heroine is the sheep or the shepherd in her search for the elusive Templeton. Despite a few stock characters and some stiff, unlikely dialogue, An Obvious Enchantment offers suspenseful, escapist reading for a lazy Sunday or a dark and stormy night. --Regina Marler From the Back Cover:
"How cleverly Tucker Malarkey refashions the quest novel, and what a world of mirrors and mysteries she creates. I would happily have followed her heroine
anywhere. An Obvious Enchantment is as seductive as its title promises."
"An exciting, intelligently imagined story, well written and well paced, with a very skillful use of place and atmosphere."
"As the mystery unfolds, Malarkey raises intriguing questions about the actions that passions drive us to--with profound or searing consequences."
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