The “Book of mirrors” was a hyped book when it was published, receiving a lot of media attention world wide. However, most of my curiosity arose from the fact that the author is Romanian, and it intrigued me that the book was originally written in English. “Let’s see what’s all this fuss is about!” I told myself while ordering the book …
… and I am so glad I did order it 🙂
To begin with, let’s discuss the title a bit. As the narrator explains, the title refers to “the maze of distorting mirrors you used to find at carnivals [..] everything you saw when you went inside was both true and false at the same time“. As you might have guessed already, the main theme of the book is memory, and how people have different perspectives on the same events while none of them being wrong.
The book is a murder mystery with a strong psychological component. In a nutshell, the story is about professor Joseph Wieder’s murder at Princeton University, in the late 1980s. Twenty-five years later, a literary agent received an intriguing manuscript called “The Book of Mirrors” … which seemed more like a confession of the aforementioned murder than a fiction novel.
Needless to say, I enjoyed this book A LOT! I personally read it in two sprints – one evening at home, and then on my flight to Cambridge and back. It makes you question not only the trustworthiness of its characters, but also the trustworthiness of your own memories. While reading it, I was thinking that it did happen to me to be unsure whether some of my childhood memories were actually memories or I imagined them because I’ve been told those stories multiple times …
“Our memory isn’t a video camera that records everything that passes in front of the lens, Richard, but more like a screenwriter and director all rolled into one, who make up their own movies from snatches of reality”
What I also liked about this book is that even if it had a closed ending, from a classic point of view, it still left (a lot of) room for interpretation. Yes, in the end you find out who killed the Professor, but you might not feel that the whole mystery is solved. Chirovici himself said that the book “is not a whodunit, but a whydunit“. I think he plays with the readers’ mind in an exciting way, making the book unputdownable.
To conclude, I highly recommend this book. More than an intriguing story, the author gives us a heads up regarding the “human’s mind capacity to cosmeticize and even falsify recollections“. It made me think about how each person sees events through his/her own personal lens, making memories such a subjective matter.
‘Till next time … happy reading!