Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lost Path to Solitude


(A Follow-Up to Dogs With Bagels)


Maria Elena Sandovici
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: February 12, 2016
# of pages: 315
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Once you leave home, can you ever return? Two characters, mother and daughter, contemplate this question in Lost Path to Solitude. Twenty-five years after leaving Romania in order to follow the man she loves to New York, Maria Pop still struggles with accepting her decision. She is determined to go back and recapture the poetry and joy of life in Bucharest, even at the expense of risking her marriage. Meanwhile, her daughter, Liliana, second-guesses her own choice of moving to a small town in Southeast Texas, ironically called Solitude, where she finds herself lonely, bored, and nostalgic for the fast pace of life in New York City. Facing the claustrophobic social climate of a town that goes to bed early, as well as the constrictions of her emerging academic career, Liliana longs for something that would give her existence meaning. The parallel soul-searching and the frustration they experience does little to bring mother and daughter closer. Instead, as each struggles with finding her own place in the world, they become increasingly critical of each other. Will their relationship survive the growing pains they each must suffer in their quest for self-fulfillment?


Freight Trains and Pelicans

Freight trains and pelicans don't necessarily go well together. But if I had to pick two symbolic images for the way Texas is represented in my new novel, Lost Path to Solitude, these two would be among the top contenders. Like the other two geographical locations that are important in the book, Bucharest and New York City, the corner of Texas portrayed appears as a place of contrasts. Its imagery ranges from the gritty to the sublime, from the enchanting to the unbearable. Like my characters, the places I like to write about are complex, evoking a yin and yang of emotions that at times confuses or exhausts, but which renders them unforgettable. That Liliana ends up in Texas in the sequel to Dogs with Bagels was more than a writerly whim of mine. It's something that had to be written because Texas worked its way into my mind, into my language, my aesthetic, and into the story. Her feelings about it are conflicted yet strong. Texas is more than a location. It becomes a character, one difficult and twisted enough, yet also infused with enough charm, to be a worthy match for Liliana and Maria, my complicated and excessively temperamental protagonists. As some of my favorite readers are finishing the book, I find that what many of them like about it are the ways in which the main characters infuriate them in one scene then make them love them again in another. Throughout the novel, Texas will do a similar dance. So, if you like contrasts, you might enjoy reading Lost Path to Solitude, not just for its flawed yet lovable characters, but also for the places, real and imaginary, they inhabit. In the end, none of these places is deemed ideal. There is no land of milk and honey. You have to take the good with the bad. Which, of course, Texans will not find surprising. After all, if you like it here, and some of us do, you embrace the whole cocktail of adversity and delight: sandals in February, sweltering heat in August, scented jasmine and huge flying roaches, glorious sunsets and the unleashed forces of nature, hummingbirds and rattlesnakes, bluebonnets and untameable weeds. 

Maria Elena Sandovici moved to Texas on a Greyhound bus in the summer of 2005. It would be the beginning of a great adventure. Born in Bucharest, Romania, a place she loves and where she returns often, she’d spend the requisite time in Manhattan to call herself a New Yorker, but also to know she was looking for something else. Her debut novel, Dogs with Bagels, is very much a New York story: the story of an immigrant family forging new identities for themselves in the city that never sleeps. 
Her second novel, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, is the story of a young woman traveling the world in search of herself. This theme persists in Lost Path to Solitude, her third novel, in which characters suffering an identity crisis are caught in a search for the ideal place to call home. Three locales dominate the story: New York City, Bucharest, and an imaginary, caricaturized town in Southeast Texas, called Solitude. In addition to writing fiction, Maria Elena Sandovici paints every day. She has a studio at Hardy and Nance Studios in Houston, and also shows her daily watercolors on her blog, Have Watercolors Will Travel, accompanied by essays about whatever inspires or obsesses her at any given moment. To support her art and writing, she teaches Political Science at Lamar University. She is also the well-behaved human of a feisty little dog.  Her favorite places in Texas are Houston and Galveston. 


  May 23 - June 1, 2016
Check out the other great blogs on the tour!  

5/23   Missus Gonzo    Review    
5/24   It's a Jenn World – Author Interview #1
5/25   Country Girl Bookaholic  – Promo
5/26   Forgotten Winds  -- Review
5/27   Texas Book Lover  – Guest Post #1
5/28   My Book Fix Blog – Excerpt              
5/29   Hall Ways BlogReview
5/30   The Page Unbound – Author Interview #2
5/31   StoreyBook Reviews      – Review
6/1     A Novel Reality – Guest Post #2

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  1. "embrace the whole cocktail of adversity and delight" -- true of people and places indeed! Thanks for the post!

  2. It sounds like an interesting read!