Sunday, April 16, 2006

Book Review: The Tenth Circle

Dante's Inferno is a fictional story of his tour through the nine circles of hell. Each circle is reserved for people who indulged in various sins, each one catering for increasingly worse sinners until he reaches the ninth circle reserved for traitors. This circle includes a zone for Satan and his angels. Jodi Picoult's new novel, The Tenth Circle, uses the framework of Dante's Inferno as the backbone of her story. But as the story is told, it becomes clear that a tenth circle is needed for a sin that Dante overlooked. As usual, Jodi Picoult's story is rich in intrigue and authentically informed. This time, it is about the relationship between a father and a daughter which is strained to breaking point. In the middle of Daniel and Laura's marital crisis, their daugher, Trixie, is raped by her ex-boyfriend - at least, that is her claim. The consequences are profound and Daniel, who has a hidden past, risks everything to protect his daughter. There are some intriguing aspects of Picoult's novel. Firstly, there is literary structure around Dante's circles of hell. Secondly, Daniel is a graphic novel artist and, throughout the story, Daniel illustrates the journey of his alter-ego through the circles. On the way, the complexities of people grappling with betrayal in various forms are explored. It's a gripping, disturbing story which explores the depths of human nature - and one with a surprising twist at the end. Picoult is in fine form. If you have read any of her other books, you will want to rush out and get this one. If you haven't, then don't waste another minute!

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