Book review: Memoir revolves around trust and renewal
November 11, 2010
Signe Pike may have thought she found her dream job as a New York City book editor, but all the glitter of new shoes and all that sparkles with big-city life didn’t deliver her to happily-ever after. Her memoir begins with an admission that, at age 27, being a “taskmaster” doesn’t serve her sense of purpose. She promises authenticity and honesty in her journey to rediscover the magic, and faith, in life with one vulnerable sentence: “I am going to heal your heartbreak, because I have no idea how to heal my own.”
And so begins chapter one, with her remembrance of what used to create a sense of wonder in her childhood: faeries. Her father’s death when she was 25 didn’t make her lose her sense of wonder – that went out long before, with rational adulthood – but his death did deeply shake her sense of trust. With the loss, she begins to yearn to believe in faeries again:
“The more I thought about it, the more I wondered where our modern culture has left faeries today,” she writes on p. 13. ” … As I began to look closer, I found that faeries still had a huge following – believers – all over the world. Perhaps these believers would be able to help me believe once more. Perhaps with their help, I could even find a faery, sit it down for some nectar or something, and ask, ‘Where did we all go wrong?’ The heaviness I’d felt on my heart began to lighten.”
Though this passage may sound too childlike or simplistic, Pike’s memoir is anything but. She brings a desperate sense of tension to her travels, which take her from Mexico to England, Ireland and Scotland. She infuses her writing with wit, humor, revelation and insight. And she humanizes the struggle, or search, “for enchantment in a modern world.”
And although faeries may be an unlikely element to pair with a memoir, Pike pulls it off splendidly. She ushers readers along on every step of her journey, be it an inexplicable bathroom encounter with a faery south of the border, or mystical journeys into powerful gardens and sites in the United Kingdom. She questions the veracity of faeries along with the reader, but in the end, her search is a satisfying adventure that just may cast a spell on the way you approach life.