Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lost Path to Solitude ~ ~ ~ ~ Blog Tour Promo*, Review, & Giveaway!


(A Follow-Up to Dogs With Bagels)


Maria Elena Sandovici
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: February 12, 2016
# of pages: 315
Scroll down for Giveaway!

Once you leave home, can you ever return? Two characters, mother and daughter, contemplate this question in Lost Path to Solitude. Twenty-five years after leaving Romania in order to follow the man she loves to New York, Maria Pop still struggles with accepting her decision. She is determined to go back and recapture the poetry and joy of life in Bucharest, even at the expense of risking her marriage. Meanwhile, her daughter, Liliana, second-guesses her own choice of moving to a small town in Southeast Texas, ironically called Solitude, where she finds herself lonely, bored, and nostalgic for the fast pace of life in New York City. Facing the claustrophobic social climate of a town that goes to bed early, as well as the constrictions of her emerging academic career, Liliana longs for something that would give her existence meaning. The parallel soul-searching and the frustration they experience does little to bring mother and daughter closer. Instead, as each struggles with finding her own place in the world, they become increasingly critical of each other. Will their relationship survive the growing pains they each must suffer in their quest for self-fulfillment?

HALL WAYS REVIEW:  Where to begin? Can I show my love for this book by just listing quote after quote from it?  I didn’t read the first book, Dogs With Bagels but I most assuredly WILL because I need to know more about the characters in Lost Path to Solitude.  With my age falling solidly between main characters Liliana’s and Maria’s, I found that I could relate to different aspects of each of them and to both of them in that ever-present longing for something intangible – Change? Adventure? Comfort? Belonging? Author Elena Sandovici nails the nuances of that longing and how it manifests itself in different stages of life.  

In Lost Path to Solitude, Sandovici keeps things interesting by offering doses of heartbreak, humility, and hissy-fits, but also a fair amount of humor.  There’s a texting incident early on – made even more amusing because of auto-correct – that had me laughing and nodding because who hasn’t done something like that?  And I also got a laugh out of Liliana, in true Texan style, making a distinction between a redneck and a hillbilly for her New York friend.  

Speaking of Texas and New York. . . Sandovici does an outstanding job with her settings, which jump from small town and metropolitan Texas, to New York, to Bucharest.  Each place feels authentic and is richly described so that readers will feel immersed in each city and feel the moods of each place as well.  Even the unique foods of each city are lovingly described, solidifying the uniqueness of each city from a foodie perspective. 

The characters in this story are complex, and though I didn’t need to have read the first book to understand the second, I think it might have helped me know the characters better.  I was surprised by Maria’s fondness for expletives; it didn’t suit her, but I got the feeling it might have if I had known her in book one, ten years earlier in life.  With Maria’s husband Victor, I didn’t get to see his pre-separation behavior, so it was hard for me to be overly sympathetic to Maria wanting to leave him again.  Maria was fascinating and exasperating in equal measure, and there was plenty to love.  Here are two of my favorite quotes to show why I love her and relate to her:

“Maria, of course, never cared much for conversation.
But she loved words.”

“So what if she made a pittance? She was finally working with books . . . They made her happy.”

The writing is beautifully done, and especially interesting is how Sandovici writes the characters’ internal dialogue versus the dialogue between characters.  Maria thinks eloquently, likely in her native language though readers read it in English, but when she speaks to others, her speech is choppy and broken, so readers hear her accent.  Though there were some typos and errors scattered throughout, and commas tend to be used as signals to pause, most readers aren’t likely to find they get in the way of the story.  

Readers can easily imagine all the characters in this book continue to exist after the book is finished, and I can’t help but hold out hope that a third book might be written so we can find out what happens next for them.  In the mean time, I’ll satisfy my interest with Dogs With Bagels.

Maria Elena Sandovici moved to Texas on a Greyhound bus in the summer of 2005. It would be the beginning of a great adventure. Born in Bucharest, Romania, a place she loves and where she returns often, she’d spend the requisite time in Manhattan to call herself a New Yorker, but also to know she was looking for something else. Her debut novel, Dogs with Bagels, is very much a New York story: the story of an immigrant family forging new identities for themselves in the city that never sleeps. 

Her second novel, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, is the story of a young woman traveling the world in search of herself. This theme persists in Lost Path to Solitude, her third novel, in which characters suffering an identity crisis are caught in a search for the ideal place to call home. Three locales dominate the story: New York City, Bucharest, and an imaginary, caricaturized town in Southeast Texas, called Solitude.

In addition to writing fiction, Maria Elena Sandovici paints every day. She has a studio at Hardy and Nance Studios in Houston, and also shows her daily watercolors on her blog, Have Watercolors Will Travel, accompanied by essays about whatever inspires or obsesses her at any given moment.

To support her art and writing, she teaches Political Science at Lamar University. She is also the well-behaved human of a feisty little dog. 

Her favorite places in Texas are Houston and Galveston. 

  May 23 - June 1, 2016

Congratulations to winners Wendy C. and Dianne C.!

Check out the other great blogs on the tour!  

5/23         Missus Gonzo    Review
5/24         It's a Jenn WorldAuthor Interview #1
5/25         Country Girl Bookaholic  Promo
5/26         Forgotten Winds  -- Review
5/27         Texas Book Lover  Guest Post #1
5/28         My Book Fix BlogExcerpt    
5/29         Hall Ways BlogReview
5/30         The Page Unbound Author Interview #2
5/31         StoreyBook Reviews                Review
6/1           A Novel Reality         Guest Post #2
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  1. Thank you for this wonderful review! I can't begin to express how happy I am that you liked the book!

  2. My pleasure! I look forward to reading more of your work.

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