Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Review: The Lost Diary of Don Juan

Summary: It was a time of discovery and decadence, when life became a gamble and the gold that poured endlessly into the port of Sevilla devalued money, marriage, and love itself. In the midst of these treacherous times, Juan Tenorio is born and then abandoned in the barn of a convent. Raised secretly by the nuns, he learns to love and worship all women and wants nothing more than to be a priest, until he falls in love with one of the sisters. When their affair is discovered, Juan leaves the Church forever. He is soon recruited to be a spy by the powerful Marquis de la Mota, who teaches him to become the world's greatest libertine and seducer of women. But when he crosses swords with the most powerful man in the Empire, Don Juan must escape the murderous fury of the Inquisitor who battles all forms of debauchery, deviance, and heresy.

It is after knowing countless women that he is convinced by the Marquis to keep a diary, and it is here within its pages that Don Juan reveals his greatest adventures and the Arts of Passion he mastered. But what finally compels him to confess everything and risk losing his life, livelihood, and honor is the most perilous adventure of all -- the irresistible fall into the madness of love with the only woman who could ever make him forget all others. -- Washington Square Press

When Dorothy from Pump Up Your Book Promotion offered me the opportunity to read THE LOST DIARY OF DON JUAN by Douglas Carlton Abrams, I jumped at the chance. I love historical fiction books; and I figured that one about a famous lover would make for some interesting reading. After finishing this book, I have to say that I really enjoyed this story about Don Juan (and I totally can see it as a movie!)

Of course, this book is about one of the world's greatest lovers so it does have lots of vivid descriptions of Don Juan's conquests, especially since it was written in Don Juan's own words. I'm not usually a big fan of these types of scenes, but this book needed them to allow the reader to understand Don Juan and the power he held over women. The author wrote these romance scenes in a very descriptive manner -- he used lots of analogies and comparisons to anything and everything. (Don Juan could turn any regular item or experience into something sexual!) I thought the author was extremely successful in creating the character of Don Juan as well as the mood of the novel with his explicit prose.

I have to admit that I didn't really get into the book until about the half-way point; but once I reached it, I couldn't put the book down. The story became very fast-paced and suspenseful with a few twists and turns, and I couldn't read fast enough to find out the ending! I also think that I really got to "know and love" Don Juan by this time -- the author chose to portray him as someone who loved women and wanted to make them happy, rather than just a slimeball who was just trying to bed them for his own pleasure. I found myself drawn into his story and even rooting for Don Juan to find true love and have a happy ending.

One thing I thought was extremely helpful in this book was the glossary at the back. I usually wouldn't even mention something like this, but this information was truly beneficial. I definitely think it enhanced my understanding of the story. The glossary was extremely detailed and provided a great deal of background on this time period. It's apparent that the author did a ton of research while writing this book; and I think that he did the reader a big favor by including all of this content.

I really felt that the author did a wonderful job with this story of showing how a person can be truly passionate while also being loyal to one person -- that these two things are definitely not mutually exclusive. In today's society, I think some people don't really believe that you can find your one true love... and have passion... and be together forever... and be totally fulfilled. I thought this book ultimately did have a wonderful message, and I found it to be very romantic!

THE LOST DIARY OF DON JUAN is Douglas Carlton's Abrams first novel, and I think it's an excellent start. This book had a little bit of everything -- lots of romance, but also some adventure and intrigue as well. The author's writing is extremely descriptive; and I found myself being able to visualize all of the scenes, especially the ones that described Seville (now I'm dying to visit Spain!) If you would like to learn more about Douglas Carlton Abrams, I suggest taking a look at his blog or reading this conversation with him. In addition, there is a wonderful website for the book which also includes lots of interesting information.

I think THE LOST DIARY OF DON JUAN would make a terrific selection for your book club, especially if your club is like mine and adores historical fiction. You can read an excerpt and check out the reading guide if you think you might be interested.

I am very excited to announce that Douglas Carlton Abrams will be visiting Booking Mama next month as a guest blogger. In addition, I will be running a contest where you can win your very own copy of THE LOST DIARY OF DON JUAN.

Also reviewed at:
Savvy Verse and Wit
Age 30+... A Lifetime of Books


Crystal Adkins said...

HI I've been following the VBT from pump up your book promotion and I think this is an awesome book. I am also finding great blogs like yours :)

photoquest said...

I had thought i left a comment but must not've gone threw :(
I think this would've been a very interesting book to do research on , will need to pick this one up.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Julie, what a great review! I'll see if I can't get Douglas over here to comment. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

This one sounds great! Great review. I'm heading over to bookmooch to add it my my ever-growing wishlist.

Unknown said...

I've had this one on my TBR pile in my bedroom for a while! I've been wanting to get to it but now that I've read your review, I'm moving it up in the stack! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read this one yet, but it's on my list. I'm intrigued that the author portrays Don Juan in a way that readers can root for him. Great review, as always!

Serena said...

This is a great book. My review is posting tomorrow morning. I've added your link to my post.