Impossible Views of the World is a novel written by Lucy Ives and the first work I have read by the author. Middle aged Stella Krauss is having a terrible week. Working at an art museum in New York City her life is falling apart. Her divorce from Whitt has been messy, her colleagues aren’t helping, and to top it
all off one of her coworkers has disappeared. Stella is reaching a dead end in her career and doesn’t quite know where to go. Searching through Paul’s folders after his disappearance Stella is intrigued when she stumbles over a 19th century map of a Utopian village. Now not only must she navigate her own messy life, but make sense of all the things Paul has left behind as well.
I love art museums and have fond memories of traipsing through the Cloisters and MET when I lived in New York City. The art scene in New York is vibrant and often takes on a soul of its own. American furnishings make up a large portion of the American Works department at CeMArt where Stella works, and the descriptions of 18th century tables and chests reminded me of Donna Tratt’s The Goldfinch. Also just look at the cover! Easily one of my favorites this year.
However, I just could not get into the book. The plot seemed very jumbled to me and with so many side stories it was often difficult to follow along with the plot. Perhaps Lucy Ives intentionally did this to highlight the hectic nature of Stella’s life, but it seemed superfluous and detracted from the main theme of the book. The ending also seemed lacking, things were left untied and relationships in free fall.
Other reviews I have read criticized the word choice of Lucy Ives, and is true that she included a lot of five dollar words. I however appreciated the writing style and it was clear to me that Ives chose her words with care. Rather than being pretentious, I thought the writing was concise and refreshing. Ives did not rely on overplayed buzz words but instead utilized phrases like “effaced” and “marcelled.” The writing had a distinct academic flavor that suited the voice of Stella. Entrenched in a world of research and wealth it would naturally reflect in her narration, I did not feel like the writing was contrived or out of place.
So while the busyness of the plot only lent a 2/5 in my book, the museum setting and mystery would appeal to fans of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
*Thank you to First to Read, Penguin, and author for providing me with a free copy in exchange for a honest review. All opinions stated here are my own.