My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A review of Winter Oranges or, The story of how Marie Sexton freaked me the f*ck out, kept me up all night but redeemed herself by writing an incredibly sweet and romantic story which cured my book funk.
I was having ‘a bad book day’, everything I picked up was just ‘blah’. Had given up on 4 separate books that day and was just about to capitulate and re-read instead when my eyes fell on Winter oranges on my to-read list. I was loathe to pick it up, afraid that my ‘bad book day’ would contaminate it somehow. But desperate times, call for desperate measures. So I picked it up…
The first paragraph of the first chapter states, that Jason’s new home would be the perfect location for a remake of Amityville. Now, being European and way to faint-hearted to watch horror movies I had no idea what this reference meant, so I googled… and freaked the f*ck out by the ‘true story’ descriptions of the horrors.
Logically this made no sense. I do not believe in ghosts. But it was a creepy dark and rainy December night, just gone 11 pm, I live in the middle of nowhere, so I don’t pull the curtains very often, my house is old, built in 1900, and it creaks something rotten in the winter storms.
So, yeah, my heart was hammering, I had to pull the blinds down and I stared suspiciously at the dogs, hoping that the fact that they were sleeping soundly meant that no demons or any other other-worldly evil was at large in the house… there was no way in hell, I was going to go upstairs and go to sleep anytime soon. So I kept reading.
And boy, was I glad I did. I’ll admit to a slight squeak, when Jason sees Ben for the first time in the window – and I stubbornly denied looking at any of my dark window panes for a while after that scene! – but other than that, this turned out to be just what the doctor ordered: both for curing my book funk, but also for calming my freaked out little heart after the horror stories on google.
Jason is a washed up B-list actor, in desperate need of peace and quiet after being hounded by the paparazzi for most of his life. He is hopelessly in love with his best friend, a fellow actor of crappy slasher movies, ans has been for the last 10 years. The two have a friends with benefits arrangement, which is slowly killing Jason.
Jason buys a house in the middle of nowhere Idaho, but the night he moves in, he sees a young man in the window of his guest house above the garage. Being his paranoid self he is afraid it may have been a reporter, and when he spots him again several days later, he calls the police.
The sheriff finds no signs of anyone and decides Jason is on drugs – Hollywood lifestyle and all. Jason himself don’t know what to think, but begins to speculate if he is having a mental breakdown as he continues to see the young man in the window. In the end, he goes to confront his unwanted guest and end up encountering Ben. Who is real, except he is not really…
Ben is stuck in a snow globe, put there by his sister to save her frail and sickly brother from going into the army in 1861. Unfortunately the globe gets stolen, so she never gets the opportunity to release him again.
For 150 years Ben has lived inside the globe, able to see and experience everything around him, but not able to interact. Before he meets Jason.
The relationship between the two is lovely. Incredibly sweet and romantic and Ben’s enthusiasm and joy over everything in the world and Jason is wonderful and catching.
Jason’s character growth is great too. I too wondered at points in the story if Ben really was real, or if he was a figment of Jason’s mind going through a breakdown. I sincerely understood Dylan’s concerns and would probably have acted in the same way, even if in the book he ends up ‘the villain’ who almost ruins everything.
This book wasn’t perfect, there were things I would have liked to have known more about, things I would have wanted to have been explored deeper. But I read it in one sitting, finishing it at 3.30 in the morning on that windy December night and all was right in the world again. My heart was no longer hammering, there were no demonic shadows behind the dark window panes, there was only a lovely and romantic story and a silly grin on my face. So I forgive Ms. Sexton for freaking me out and happily rate her books 5 stars for the entertainment it gave and for pulling me out of my book funk.