Monday, August 19, 2013

Book Review - Propinquity by John Macgregor

You may notice that my schedule is off as this should have posted yesterday on my regular review day. As I mentioned the other day, I am dealing with a family medical issue and my time at the computer is limited. Since I had this review done, I figured I should go ahead and post it.

John Macgregor
File Size: 584 KB
Print Length: 373 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 148418601X
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: John Macgregor (October 30, 1986)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Before reading this book the first thing I had to do was look up the word "propinquity" as I was not sure what it meant, and therefore was not sure what the book's main focus was going to be. It all became clear when I found one definition: The propinquity effect is the tendency for people to form friendships or romantic relationships with those whom they encounter often, forming a bond between subject and friend.

The story is about a group of Oxford students who stumble on the perfectly preserved body of a 13th Century queen, buried deep under Westminster Abbey. The queen held Gnostic secrets suppressed by the Church. The group discovers she may not be dead, but suspended between life and death by a rare herb. Some of that plotting was a bit thin for me, but the group of characters were interesting and engaging. Clive, the narrator and his best friend Julian Lake, are central to the story, as is Samantha, who first introduces Clive to the buried queen.

In the first quarter of the book, I thought there was too much back story about the young men and their various interests and travels, but once the story really got going in their quest to find what secrets are under Westminister Abbey and the truth about Queen Berengaria, Richard the Lionheart's Queen, the pacing was better.

The book has been compared to The Da Vinci Code, and there are similarities in plot: secret religious groups that work to keep their teachings alive, a race against the Church hierarchy and the police who are trying to keep the protagonists from revealing that secret, and a romance that develops between the two central characters.

I enjoyed the book, as it is a good adventure written with considerable wry humor and bits of philosophy. At one point Lake writes to Clive in a letter: "I suppose the distinction has been made, now, forever, between what I have and what I am: losing what you have tends to show you what you are. Maybe that's why some bereaved people never recover."   

Propinquity won the 1986 Adelaide Festival Biennial Award for Literature and it was also shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year in 1987. The author had a long career in journalism, writing for the New York Times, and winning a major investigative journalism award for unraveling a real-life conspiracy by the FBI. 

5 comments:

Karen Walker said...

Well, I loved The Da Vinci Code, so I just might pick this one up. Hope the medical issue is resolved in a good way.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks, Karen. I think you will like the book. I actually liked it better than The Da Vinci Code in some ways. The humor was great.

Maryann Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yolanda Renee said...

Always love when humor is present in a story. I try to work it into mine, but am not as talented as some. Although, I do make my husband laugh once in awhile, which is good since he's the comedian in our house. I haven't read The Da Vinci Code, the shame of seeing the movie I suppose.

Hope all is well soon! Take care!

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks, Yolanda. Humor is always good. In fiction and in real life.