Wednesday, September 19, 2018

[14-ENG] Review: The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring - Julie Bozza

Julie Bozza
Series: The Butterfly Hunter Trilogy
Volume: 3/3
Publisher: LIBRAtiger
Genre/s: m/m romance
Length: 56 950 words
Pages: 173

Read in: English
Review copy format: epub

David and Nicholas have been a happy, loving married couple for many years. Their life together could certainly be considered perfect if not for the fact that problems appear on the horizon and disturb their former peaceful existence. Because as it turns out, a mining company is extremely interested in their beautiful haven hidden in the Australian bush. The start of iron ore mining would result in many financial benefits for the locals, but at the same time it could seriously threaten the flora and fauna of the waterhole which means so much to David and Nicholas. As if that were not enough, Robin, Nicholas's nephew who spends his summer holidays with them, also makes them worry, as the boy chooses this rather unlucky moment to confide in his beloved uncle and what he has to say is simply too much for Nicholas.

We are at the very end of our adventure with the "Butterfly Hunter" trilogy, as "The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring" finishes this unique series. However, it is not the time for sentiments, as I would like to start this review with something specific. And this is because the first thing that immediately caught my attention while reading the novel was the subject very close to my heart, which at once became the center of my attention. What I'm obviously talking about is asexuality. I must admit that until now I looked at it only from one, the best known to me, perspective, and I wasn't even fully aware of that fact. For it seemed to me that if some people have such a big problem with accepting other, not heterosexual, orientations because of the gender of the person that someone desires, then if someone doesn't feel physical attraction to others, there should be no problem. It was Julie Bozza who made me realize that it is not so simple. There are people who do not understand the difference between physical and romantic love, as in most cases they go hand in hand. What's more, some people can't imagine the lack of physical attraction, just as asexual people, or at least some of them, can't imagine to be in a situation in which they feel said physical attraction. Imagine a situation in which one of your friends doesn't taste one of the tastes, let's say salty. How do you explain to him/her how it feels to taste it if he/she doesn't even know it? On the other hand, put yourself in the place of this friend and try to describe how it is never to taste the salty taste. Difficult thing, right? That's why I'm glad that Julie Bozza decided to raise this problem in her novel.

Let's move on to a relatively easier subject which is the eternal war between concern for wildlife and lust for money. I think that this theme perfectly fits the "Butterfly Hunter" trilogy, as the world seems to be constructed in such a way that sooner or later "the human factor" must appear when it comes to the beauty of nature. I admit that, having that in mind, from the very beginning I wondered when people would start to intrude on the waterhole David found. However, the author went a step further than I thought and introduced human "hunger" and "insatiability" into her history. More specifically, the point is that a person constantly needs more space, more natural resources, more everything that belongs to nature, and all of this turns into money. When we juxtapose this more selfish side of human nature and the main characters of the series who have such a great respect for wildlife, we get an interesting book which is more informative than simply entertaining. This image is also complemented by the introduction of the elements of geology to the story which, focusing on Australia, allows us to get to know this country better than before. When we take all of this into account, we will notice that "The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring" has a completely different vibe than the previous volumes, but is equally pleasant to read.

Since I've already taken up the subject of the nature, I think it's worth pointing out that Julia Bozza once again shows us the magic hidden behind the beauty of the world and the wildlife. And it's this said magic that makes the real background for the events presented in the trilogy. It seems to me that from the very beginning the point was not to show us Australia itself, or England in the second volume, but to present its primary, wild beauty. However, the most important is the fact that this time, even more than before, the nature presented by the author seems to be connected with the supernatural world. After a hidden from people waterhole which is a home to an unknown butterfly species and a mysterious stone circle, it's time for the waterhole to "open" not only to selected individuals, but generally to all people. The goal seems mundane and almost ordinary, but the way to achieve it is full of old Aboriginal songs and beliefs. Think whatever you want, but after reading "The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring" I immediately asked myself a question that I kept repeating from the very first volume. What if, under this facade of an ordinary story, hide the forces rejected by modern, rational thinking people, but in which aborigines believe?

But let's come back down to earth. As "The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring" is the last part of the trilogy, it is rather obvious that the reader expects the closure of the threads not closed yet. To some extent, the author offers it to us, but I have the impression that she focuses mainly on those started in previous volumes,  such as Nicholas' disease, the future of a waterhole or David's chance to learn the songs of the dead aborigines who owned the land where the waterhole is located.  At the same time, the threads opened in this volume seem to be neglected a little. I think that the problem of Nicholas' lack of acceptance of Robin's sexual orientation deserves a definite, explicit closure. Maybe I'm overreacting, but as for me apologizing for the past quarrels is not tantamount to acceptance of the other person's sexual orientation. To be honest with you, I would also like to finally find out the whole truth about David's "bad luck" and the phone calls the characters were receiving. I prefer when the author closes the series with confidence, thanks to which my imagination doesn't give me disturbing ideas about possible continuations of a given story.

In summary, "The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring" is a novel which center point are the two main characters and the topics raised here are like a tight circle that surrounds David and Nicholas. Among many other subjects, the author found a place for the problems of sexuality, acceptance, economic development, love of nature and the romantic one, wedding's "'til death do us part" and so much more. Undeniably, this book is more serious than the previous volumes of the trilogy, but no less exceptional. It's definitely worth reading and experiencing this last adventure together with our beloved characters.

Headcanon: After the surgery, Nicholas improvises with his hairstyle but he always allows David to choose the one that suits him better.

Fanfiction idea: For relaxation and health improvement, David and Nicholas take a holiday in the wellness center.

AU idea: Nicholas works for WWF, and David is a triton. When David rescues a drowning Nicholas, he discovers the existence of beings he considered non-existent.

Julie Bozza


Here's some more about:

Series title: The Butterfly Hunter Trilogy
Author: Julie Bozza
Covers Artist: Gayna Murphy

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Of Dreams and Ceremonies

The Butterfly Hunter Trilogy [Boxed Set]

About the Author

Julie Bozza is an English-Australian hybrid who is fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, unreasonably excited by photography, and madly in love with Amy Adams and John Keats.

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