A brief description of this book at Bloomsbury Publishing:
When you haven't had sex in a long time, it feels like the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone. If you're living in Germany in the 1930s, it probably isn't.
But that's no consolation to Egon Loeser, whose carnal misfortunes will push him from the experimental theatres of Berlin to the absinthe bars of Paris to the physics laboratories of Los Angeles, trying all the while to solve two mysteries: whether it was really a deal with Satan that claimed the life of his hero, the great Renaissance stage designer Adriano Lavicini; and why a handsome, clever, charming, modest guy like him can't, just once in a while, get himself laid.My husband's review at Goodreads:
I was drawn to this book because a) the concept of teleportation - with its dematerializing of objects for transport from one place to another - seems an interesting subject and b) the cover art is extremely cool. The hero (if hero is a good term here) is theatrical designer Egon Loeser and we follow him from 1931 Berlin to early 1940s Los Angeles in his pursuit of the unattainable Adele. In addition to Adele, Loeser is obsessed with Lavicini, a 17th century theatrical designer who may have invented a teleportation device that actually worked. Mix in shadowy Russian spies, a pulp mystery writer, references to H.P. Lovecraft, a possible ghost, plus a Parisian con man and you have quite a stew. In the end though, I'm not really sure what the book is or is about or even if it is successful. That cover art is great though.
This book was the last book I read in 2014. I have been putting off writing a review because I don't know what to say about it. I did not hate it, but I did not enjoy the book while reading it. In the end, I gave it 4 stars at Goodreads, because I felt that the good outweighed the bad. I concluded that it is a well written book that just isn't really for me.
My one-sentence synopsis: As Egon Loesor searches for one woman who has disappeared from his life, many interesting things happen to him and he survives on his wits or his luck. The interesting elements are nice, but they are not enough. A good portion of the story is set in the US, and I enjoyed those parts the most. How true to life the picture of the Hollywood area at this time is, I don't know, but it was still nice to read about.
One disappointment for me was that I expected there to be more science fiction elements to the story. It is loosely based on a teleportation device, but that is not really what the story is about. However, I am sure if I had found other appealing elements, I could have easily overcome the problem. The description on the dust jacket flap implies that the book has elements of historical fiction, romance, noir, and science fiction. That is true, but I don't want a novel to flirt with all of these genres and be a mish mash of them.
My comments above show that a lot of my frustration with the book was due to my expectations. When I go back to the book and read a page or two, I see that the writing is very well done and interesting. But as I was reading it, as a whole it did not appeal to me. This is a book that I plan to re-read, and I expect to like it more the second time around. My husband and I still intend to keep this book, so we haven't written it off. And it does have a wonderful cover.
Many, many reviewers loved this book. There were also reviewers who hated it but I would say overall there are more positive reviews. Certainly the reviews from major publications that I read were very positive.
Here are some other reviews:
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA, 2013 (orig. pub. 2012)
Length: 357 pages
Setting: Berlin, Paris, USA
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: I purchased my copy.