Crossing the Lines
Sulari Gentill, author of the 1930s Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, jumps to the post-modern in Crossing the Lines.A successful writer, Madeleine, creates a character, Edward, and begins to imagine his life. He, too, is an author. Edward is in love with a woman, Willow, who's married to a man Edward loathes, and who loathes him, but he and Willow stay close friends. She's an artist. As Madeleine develops the plot, Edward attends a gallery show where a scummy critic is flung down a flight of fire stairs...murdered. Madeleine, still stressed from her miscarriages and grieving her inability to have a child, grows more and more enamored of Edward, spending more and more time with him and the progress of the investigation and less with her physician husband, Hugh, who in turn may be developing secrets of his own.As Madeline engages more with Edward, he begins to engage back. A crisis comes when Madeleine chooses the killer in Edward's story and Hugh begins to question her immersion in her novel. Yet Crossing the Lines is not about collecting clues and solving crimes. Rather it's about the process of creation, a gradual undermining of the authority of the author as the act of writing spirals away and merges with the story being told, a self-referring narrative crossing over boundaries leaving in question who to trust, and who and what is true.

Crossing the Lines Details

TitleCrossing the Lines
Author
ReleaseAug 1st, 2017
PublisherPoisoned Pen Press
ISBN-139781464209161
Rating
GenreMystery, Crime, Fiction

Crossing the Lines Review

  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Known for her Rowland Sinclair historical crime series and her YA Hero trilogy, Sulari Gentill delivers something very different with this new novel. Full review at Newtown Review of Books
  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Review to follow in the Library Journal. I think it is worth noting that I finished this while waiting in the line to see Hilary Clinton speak at the 2017 ALA convention. 6AM line for speaker at 10. 👍🏽
  • Graham
    January 1, 1970
    Brilliant.
  • Bec Hombsch
    January 1, 1970
    I want to start by saying that I am in no way paid, endorsed or was offered any kind of compensation in lieu of this review. Secondly, I will freely admit. I am a lover of Sulari’s work. I have a review for The Hero Trilogy on my computer waiting to be posted, but between work, school and issues with Wordpress it hasn’t happened. I am yet to read the Roland Sinclair series, but they are on my to read list. From the moment, she posted the cover reveal for Crossing the Lines, I knew I wanted to re I want to start by saying that I am in no way paid, endorsed or was offered any kind of compensation in lieu of this review. Secondly, I will freely admit. I am a lover of Sulari’s work. I have a review for The Hero Trilogy on my computer waiting to be posted, but between work, school and issues with Wordpress it hasn’t happened. I am yet to read the Roland Sinclair series, but they are on my to read list. From the moment, she posted the cover reveal for Crossing the Lines, I knew I wanted to read it. Honest to God, the stark white background with the black offsetting text had me. It was simple and beautiful. Then I ordered it. Well, tried. Turns out there was a miscommunication on how to spell her name. Which lead to her book not being found. But all’s well that ends well. I did get my book. A lovely black covered book so vastly different to the Australian release. HAHA turns out I got the US version. But that’s ok. I still loved it. And I still love looking at it. It’s so pretty and captivating. Yet still has that simplistic approach that dragged me into the Australian cover. And yet, I think the US cover speaks so much more about the soul of the soul and where it leads.Now onto the book…Holy crap on a cracker! I spent seven glorious hours reading. I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t step away. I had to know what was happening. I may have forgotten to cook dinner. Ignored my husband who was trying to spend some time with me after a long few weeks of study, work and illness. I may have eaten half what I normally would, jumped up from the kitchen table and flew back into the living room to continue reading. Leaving my husband to parent the kids and organise them for bed. I told my 6 year old we weren’t reading The Magic Faraway Tree tonight, because I was busy and I can’t say I remember saying goodnight to anyone. The book had hold of me. And it wasn’t letting go. Like all readers, like all writers, I can become obsessive. I can become so engrossed in my work that nothing else matters. But never do I become that obsessive I forget to parent. All I can say is ‘Sorry kids. My bad.” But let’s face it. I’m not sorry at all. The idea and basis of the story – a writer who is writing her character’s story, who in turn is writing his author’s story and their worlds become entangled – is different. As hubby said, “It sounds confusing.” And it does. But to read it, not so much. It is enthralling, fascinating and captivating. I can’t compare it to anything else I’ve read. I think the closest I can come is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The sheer brilliance of story writing and execution places Crossing the Lines in a category all of its own. It sits as one of those stories that you never forget. One that you offer up to anyone, regardless of their genre preference as a work of art, that will leave you questioning why writing hadn’t been taken to this level before. One that stands out on its own and becomes a household name because nothing out there will ever be able to compete. It is and will always be a leader in psychological literature that will be spoken about among coming generations. And would be a worthwhile novel for literature studies within high school/college/university English classes. If only because it pushes the boundaries of the written word and how a story can be told.As I began to read, I was surprised and a bit confused about the switching between perspectives. There wasn’t always a page break, chapter or anything to define it. But it paid off, the way in which Sulari developed the story, blurring the lines as it progressed rolling it all together so it basically became one was just amazing. I found myself relating closely Madeline. A panster writer who lets her characters tell the story. Someone who sits back and “watches” as the story plays out in her mind. Typing out what she sees. Never having any idea who did it or what will happen, until that vital moment when it’s revealed. The writer who is as much of a reader as they are a transcriber. One who gets heavily invested in their story. I laughed, cos let’s be honest; I do that…and that… and that…and… I definitely don’t do that. Madeline’s relationship with her character reached levels that made me question if I had misunderstood the storyline. At times, I found myself wondering if Edward was real. Was there going to be some kind of twist at the end. Is she going to discover they are tied together somehow, both human, both seeking out the other? Did I get it wrong? Was Edward “real”? Was Maddie a character? No it couldn’t be, he’d just appeared in her bedroom. Holy crap, what was happening? Jesus Christ, it’s almost 9pm I needed more coffee. I was torn between needing sleep and having to know what the hell was happening. The characters won. By the time I was finished I was questioning my own sanity. And the sanity of many, many writers I know. How involved is too involved? How many times have we blurred the lines to try and understand the character better? How many times have we come to realise we have written ourselves into our stories, even small fragments that end up shaping the book in some way. Letting out emotions unintentionally tell the story. We’re angry, they’re angry. We’re feeling trapped and betrayed, so are our characters. Three hours after I finished, all I could think of was wanting to message Sulari and claim she was an evil woman. Especially given the turn of events at home that evening. I can’t remember the last time I became so mentally obsessed after a book finished. Oh no, wait… yes I do. I seriously need to know where the Herdsmen settled and what happened to them… We won’t discuss The Hero Trilogy x Outlander x Game of Thrones dreams I’ve had over that issue. FYI I gave myself some awesome answers. Unresolved issues seems to be a theme with this author. Only this time it wasn’t with the plot. It was with my own sanity. I became immersed in the fast paced ending, the way in which the lines blurred and Maddie’s perception on reality escalated, that when I finished the book - which ended in a gaping, wide eyed “holy crap” gasp as I looked to hubby. He responded with something, but honestly I don’t know what it was – it was like coming down of some kind of exhilarating high. My mind spun, my heart race and I was still going well into the night. This sense of light headed giddiness that you face as you come back down to earth took me over. I felt like I had been absorbed for days, with little food and water. And yet, it was only seven hours. Even now. I can’t even begin to fathom just how much this book has suckered me in. I have so many people I want to run it over to and say, read this! Now! Here I’ll take you kids. I’ll go fill in a work. You sit here and read this! There won’t be any regrets. Well… maybe not for my non-author friends. My writer friends may start with some personal questions about their own character involvement. As a mother, I can safely say my kids can read it. Yes, there’s mention of sex. But it is implied, mentioned and the focus shifted elsewhere. It was refreshing to read a book what didn’t have detailed sex scenes that left me disappointed because I knew my teens would enjoy it but couldn’t read it as a result of half a page or more giving detailed descriptions on every stage of sexual intimacy. Sulari kept the focus on the story line, on the parts we needed to know. She didn’t allow for sex to be used as a filler which has just added to my love of the book. As it has now made this series suitable for pretty much everyone. It is well worth the read. I cannot recommend this enough. I love books that leave you questioning things, society, life, rules, books that give more than just a story. Ones which enhance, embrace and encourage critical thinking and looking outside the square. And this book does that. I give it 5 quills/ stars. No hesitation, no debating. Straight up five.
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  • Jeffrey
    January 1, 1970
    A tale that starts out with the query: "What if you wrote of someone writing you? In the end which of you would be real?"So we are introduced to Madeleine - Maddie to her husband. She, a writer of mystery novels, is introduced to us by Edward who is writing Madeleine's story. But we learn immediately that she has begun an atypical novel writing about Edward, a writer of literary novels. And here begins a story of Edward writing a novel about Madeleine who is penning a book about Edward - with a A tale that starts out with the query: "What if you wrote of someone writing you? In the end which of you would be real?"So we are introduced to Madeleine - Maddie to her husband. She, a writer of mystery novels, is introduced to us by Edward who is writing Madeleine's story. But we learn immediately that she has begun an atypical novel writing about Edward, a writer of literary novels. And here begins a story of Edward writing a novel about Madeleine who is penning a book about Edward - with a murder mystery intertwined.What could have been either a confusing mess or a half-formed idea was neither. The story flowed well as the narrative flipped from Maddie's perspective to Edward's and back. It was interesting that I had thought that this entire tale had started off with Maddie writing about Edward but after re-reading the first chapter, I was surprised that we started off the other way around. It proved that I was soon convinced that each could be the writer of a fictional tale and the other was simply a character on the page until they swapped places. Original in idea and execution, 'Crossing the Lines' was enjoyable and engaging. As the reveal of the killer approaches, the outcome seems only slightly less suspenseful as the unpredictable actions of the writers. The idea of how a person's own motives can alter their behaviors towards someone they claim to love is just one of the underlying variables as the story begins to wrap up.I have finished the book but am left with a mystery: which author was the writer and which was the character. Perhaps it is a debate akin to the 'which came first: the chicken or the egg'. Do they both exist? I have my own thoughts on Maddie and Edward. I'll leave it up to you to read 'Crossing the Lines' and come up with your own.
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  • Kate Ayers
    January 1, 1970
    Most of the time, I was thinking two stars, but by the end, more like two and a half. The premise sounded so interesting: A writer becomes obsessed with her character, pretty much to the exclusion of nearly everyone else. She had a successful series, the Veronica Killwilly historical mysteries, but one day Edward McGinnity enters her consciousness and she begins a contemporary murder mystery. For writers, characters are born and grow, mature, flesh out. I get it. But this one starts touching her Most of the time, I was thinking two stars, but by the end, more like two and a half. The premise sounded so interesting: A writer becomes obsessed with her character, pretty much to the exclusion of nearly everyone else. She had a successful series, the Veronica Killwilly historical mysteries, but one day Edward McGinnity enters her consciousness and she begins a contemporary murder mystery. For writers, characters are born and grow, mature, flesh out. I get it. But this one starts touching her, kissing her and....well, too much. The difficulty I had was that the writer, Madeleine, would be the focus in one paragraph and then Edward (also a writer, go figure) would be the focus of the next, so it made it very jarring for me as a reader to keep track of whose story I was in at any one time. And then there was the lack of attention to editing. I found at least ten errors, like missing words, missing quote marks, a name misspelled, extra words....sorry, that bothers me immensely. So two and a half stars. Pretty good ending though. That's something, I guess.
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  • Alyssa
    January 1, 1970
    Madeleine d’Leon is a crime fiction writer who is taking a break from her successful series of mystery novels to write a whodunit with a brand new character – Edward McGinnity, a literary author who has found himself embroiled in the murder of art critic Geoffrey Vogel.Edward McGinnity is writing a story about Madeleine d’Leon, lawyer and crime fiction writer whose marriage to doctor Hugh Lamond is waning after several miscarriages.While this may sound confusing, Crossing the Lines cleverly expl Madeleine d’Leon is a crime fiction writer who is taking a break from her successful series of mystery novels to write a whodunit with a brand new character – Edward McGinnity, a literary author who has found himself embroiled in the murder of art critic Geoffrey Vogel.Edward McGinnity is writing a story about Madeleine d’Leon, lawyer and crime fiction writer whose marriage to doctor Hugh Lamond is waning after several miscarriages.While this may sound confusing, Crossing the Lines cleverly explores how a writer’s obsession with her fictional character evolves to a point where he literally comes to life. And although there is a whodunit, this is much more than just a mystery novel. In fact, the identity of who killed Geoffrey Vogel is deliberately not as compelling as the developing relationship between Madeleine and Edward and the concept of a writer completely absorbed by her fictional story.The pair begin by simply observing each other – Edward envisages Madeleine in cloud print pyjamas, tapping away at her laptop, and ordering takeaway for dinner. Madeline imagines Edward writing long hand in his expensive beach house; a typical crime fiction hero with a troubling backstory – his family was killed in a car accident. He’s in love with best friend Willow who is married and cannot return his love; deliberately written so Madeleine doesn’t have to write a sex scene, and of whom she becomes envious as her passion for Edward intensifies. The viewpoints alternate seamlessly, as it appears both simultaneously occupy the same space, leading the reader to doubt who is really real.They are startled to discover they can converse with one another – bantering about the conventions of their differing writing styles – crime fiction and literary fiction. Madeleine tells Edward something has to “actually happen” in the stuff she writes and Edward accuses her of being obsessed with “guns and masked bandits.” When Madeleine tells her father she could never be a literary writer as the women must be stick thin, Edward realises he cannot think of any fat female literary writer of note. Before long, their relationship crosses imaginary lines, progressing to physical contact, with Madeleine preferring Edward’s company to Hugh’s.Crossing the Lines is an intricate metanarrative with Gentill, also a crime fiction author and former attorney, using “a familiar baseline” from which to develop the character of Madeleine. In April, I attended a seminar at Supanova where Sulari Gentill said she writes her mysteries without necessarily knowing where they will lead. And like Gentill, Madeline is also a ‘pantser’ rather than a ‘plotter’ – writing plot points without knowing where they will lead, including a sudden and brutal attack on Edward and a frantic car chase. And the reader of Crossing the Lines will wonder at Madeleine’s inevitable fate as she allows herself to sink deeper into her own imagination, separating herself from reality and descending into delusion.Crossing the Lines is a must read novel, especially for writers who will relate to the concept of feeling real emotions for fictional characters and the consequences of what they make happen to them. As Madeleine’s psychiatrist asks her: “Do you like that, Madeleine, deciding questions of life and death, having the power to take or give such things?” In this case, the authorial power is in the able hands of Sulari Gentill, who has crafted an intelligent and insightful story that will leave you contemplating the bounds of your own imagination.
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  • Mary Picken
    January 1, 1970
    Every now and again I come across an author who is so good that it’s hard to believe I haven’t heard of them. Sulari Gentill is awesome.Crossing The Lines is a difficult book to describe because it is meta-fiction. In this case, the device is that of crime author Madeleine d’Leon, known for writing rather cosy and popular historical mysteries about a Victorian maid.Madeleine is recovering from her latest miscarriage which has taken a physical and mental toll on her and caused a little distance b Every now and again I come across an author who is so good that it’s hard to believe I haven’t heard of them. Sulari Gentill is awesome.Crossing The Lines is a difficult book to describe because it is meta-fiction. In this case, the device is that of crime author Madeleine d’Leon, known for writing rather cosy and popular historical mysteries about a Victorian maid.Madeleine is recovering from her latest miscarriage which has taken a physical and mental toll on her and caused a little distance between her and her physician husband, Hugh.She has an idea for a new crime novel; this time featuring a writer of literary fiction and she calls him Edward McGinnity; Ned for short. Madeleine is not the kind of writer who meticulously plots her stories. Rather she likes to allow her stories to develop organically and for her characters to take the story in the direction it wants to go.Ned becomes involved in a criminal investigation when he is attending an exhibition created by his unrequited love, Willow. At this exhibition an art critic is killed and initially in defence of Willow, Ned begins to investigate.The second strand to Crossing The Lines is that of literary fiction writer, Edward McGinnity. Edward is a bit of a loner; a man who, because he is suffering the pangs of unrequited love, submerges himself in writing introspective literary fiction. Edward’s new book is about a crime fiction author, Madeline D’Leon and he is writing not a crime novel, but is looking at the way in which small events can take on massive proportions.If all this sounds a bit pretentious, be assured it is anything but. This is a novel written with the lightest of touches. Each chapter starts with either Madeleine or Edward as the writer and the two share thoughts, agents and each other’s jokes until it is impossible to know who the real author is and who is fictional.As a writer’s affectation, this would be interesting, but this book is so much more than that. It’s a complex and beautifully written look at the writer’s creative process and how easy it can be to blur the line between imagination and reality – especially when imagination proves to be so much better than life.I really liked this book – it is imaginative, different and above all, beautifully written. I will certainly be seeking out her other works.
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    Thousands of years ago, a Chinese philosopher wrote about waking from a dream in which he was a butterfly. Upon waking, he wasn’t sure if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man. This puzzle is a good introduction to Sulari Gentill’s Crossing the Lines, in which two writers get tangled up each others’ stories, each believing that they are the real author and that the other is just the main character of their next novel. After a few chapters, it’s hard to kno Thousands of years ago, a Chinese philosopher wrote about waking from a dream in which he was a butterfly. Upon waking, he wasn’t sure if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man. This puzzle is a good introduction to Sulari Gentill’s Crossing the Lines, in which two writers get tangled up each others’ stories, each believing that they are the real author and that the other is just the main character of their next novel. After a few chapters, it’s hard to know which of the authors is real and which is just a figment of imagination...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    Really unusual and fascinating novel by Sulari Gentill, best known for her 1930s historical mysteries featuring Rowland Sinclair. In Crossing the Lines, Gentill explores the blurring of reality and fiction in the life of crime writer Madeleine d'Leon, who is becoming obsessed with her literary writer turned sleuth Edward McGinnity. Or is it literary writer Edward McGinnity who's becoming obsessed with his crime writer creation Madeleine d'Leon?I'm going to be thinking about this book for a long Really unusual and fascinating novel by Sulari Gentill, best known for her 1930s historical mysteries featuring Rowland Sinclair. In Crossing the Lines, Gentill explores the blurring of reality and fiction in the life of crime writer Madeleine d'Leon, who is becoming obsessed with her literary writer turned sleuth Edward McGinnity. Or is it literary writer Edward McGinnity who's becoming obsessed with his crime writer creation Madeleine d'Leon?I'm going to be thinking about this book for a long time as I've absolutely no idea which of the two protagonists is meant to be real and which one fictitious. Very clever writing! This is the most intellectually satisfying book I've read in a while.The publisher really needed to employ a proofreader, though. It's testament to how compelling this book is that I wasn't distracted by typos the way I usually am.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    Madeline is a successful author with a great series. Her publicist cannot understand what she is doing wrting a completely different type of story where Edward is the main character and involved with a murder. She is completely wrapped up in writing Edward's story. Edward is writing a story about Madeline and her life and what she is going through in trying to write in spite of her publicist and her husband. He loves his long time friend, Willow though she is married to a man he does not like. T Madeline is a successful author with a great series. Her publicist cannot understand what she is doing wrting a completely different type of story where Edward is the main character and involved with a murder. She is completely wrapped up in writing Edward's story. Edward is writing a story about Madeline and her life and what she is going through in trying to write in spite of her publicist and her husband. He loves his long time friend, Willow though she is married to a man he does not like. There is a murder and several mysteries to come to light. Madeline and Edward become so close that they seem to be physically there when needed by the other one. Who is the real writer? How will the story end?
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  • Zak D
    January 1, 1970
    I don't know how she does it, but Sulari Gentill's writing is just a breath of fresh air. Whenever I'm in a reading slump, her work naturally sucks me out of it and onwards i read. The only thing that got me was the all the similarities between her and the female protaganist. Because of them, and knowing her previous employment at a lawyer, I always felt like it was the woman writing the man's story writing about the woman's story. (I have a feeling it's meant to be equal) but I'm still very imp I don't know how she does it, but Sulari Gentill's writing is just a breath of fresh air. Whenever I'm in a reading slump, her work naturally sucks me out of it and onwards i read. The only thing that got me was the all the similarities between her and the female protaganist. Because of them, and knowing her previous employment at a lawyer, I always felt like it was the woman writing the man's story writing about the woman's story. (I have a feeling it's meant to be equal) but I'm still very impressed.
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  • Mithila Menezes
    January 1, 1970
    I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley. I couldn't keep up with the confusing narration between the writer who was writing about a character who was the real writer (and trying to understand this was all fiction at the same time. I tried reading this book twice, and couldn't progress beyond 10% of the book. The language was nice, it's just that the narration could have been a bit more simplified. I don't think this book was my cup of tea.
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  • Kristine
    January 1, 1970
    Crossing the Lines by Sulari Gentill is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late July.Madeleine has a mind to create a literary character that is an author (yes, a book within a book) that solves crime. He just happens to be named Edward, like a man she knows in her personal life. This makes it fairly hard to separate her life from fake Edward's, not to mention the other many, many characters, and their smart, critical, biting dialogues.
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  • Palesa mokoena
    January 1, 1970
    Received this book free from Netgalley for an honest review. Never read anything like this before. Original in idea and execution, enjoyable and engaging."What if you wrote of someone writing you? In the end which of you would be real?"And here begins a story of Edward writing a novel about Madeleine who is penning a book about Edward - with a murder mystery intertwined.
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  • Debbie Harris
    January 1, 1970
    A great readI enjoyed getting caught up in this story. As I know the author I could recognise many of her trademarks and enjoyed the way she slotted them into the story. It was a good story and well executed right up until the very end. Recommended for anyone who enjoys a good mystery from a very clever writer.
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  • Diane
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, loved it!
  • Pip Jennings
    January 1, 1970
    This book very cleverly written and probably deserves 5 stars but even though it kept me intrigued, I didn't like it very much.
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    This is actually 4 1/2 stars..... a clever, intriguing, unique story with a great cast of characters and an unfurling plot that will keep readers guessing after the last page is turned......
  • Rebecca Freeborn
    January 1, 1970
    Such a clever book, and as a writer it was delightfully indulgent to read a book about writers writing about writers. Really enjoyed it.
  • Natalie Thompson
    January 1, 1970
    This was such an enjoyable read! I was sure I was going to give this 5 stars...before the ending. I am fussy with endings, and this one felt rushed. I would still recommend it.
  • Arja Salafranca
    January 1, 1970
    The premise of this novel is fascinating: a novelist, Madeleine creates a character, Edward, also a writer, who becomes more real to her than her own life. As she immerses herself in his life, her imagined character starts engaging with her, in turn. The novel is told from both their points of view: both sense, and feel each other, and can even “see” each other. Says Madeleine in conversation: “I can see him so clearly. It’s like he exists, like I’m being allowed to watch.” And in another passag The premise of this novel is fascinating: a novelist, Madeleine creates a character, Edward, also a writer, who becomes more real to her than her own life. As she immerses herself in his life, her imagined character starts engaging with her, in turn. The novel is told from both their points of view: both sense, and feel each other, and can even “see” each other. Says Madeleine in conversation: “I can see him so clearly. It’s like he exists, like I’m being allowed to watch.” And in another passage we’re on Edward’s side as: “Edward looked up and for a breath it seemed that their eyes met, locked, that they recognised one another.”Imagined, fictional life takes over from reality, to the point where the lines really are crossed. The story hangs on Madeleine’s creation of Edward and a crime he commits at the hand of her pen – yet, in his own world, Edward is no fictional creation, but a real life human being who is also bringing Madeleine to life through his own writing. It sounds slightly absurd and fantastical – but in Sulari Gentill’s this is all perfectly believable and plausible. And it’s a delight to read compulsively on. This is a story, in the end about fiction, about how a writer creates, and writes in and out of plot difficulties, about the process of writing. It’s about the full absorption a writer brings to the act of fiction – but, of course, this novel “crosses the lines” in so many ways, with the two interacting. This was an absorbing, powerful read about the process of creation. The ending, while disappointing, also speaks to the madness that can engulf a creative in the process of “crossing the lines” – and has its own authenticity at its core.
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  • Jess Clayton
    January 1, 1970
    The idea of this book is creative but I wasn't impressed with the execution.
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