Thursday, 24 July 2014

The mystery of all things

I'm currently reading a wonderful book by Elizabeth Gilbert called The Signature of All Things.  It's brilliant on so many levels, and I am totally absorbed by the heroine, Alma Whitaker. Set in the nineteenth century, it is a 500 page exploration of science, faith, discovery, desire and fulfilment - and so much more.

I found it at the right time in my life, having recently studied the history of science during the period covered by the story, so it has an added resonance. I have reached the point in the story where the heroine goes in search of an answer to a deeply personal question that is currently a mystery, and this got me thinking about the compelling fascination of mystery fiction. (I've also been watching a lot of the TV series Murder, She Wrote!)

I think we love to solve puzzles and mysteries, and unlock the secrets that fiction writers present us with, because we are unable to do this in our own lives, the ending of which is always a mystery, that cannot be neatly discovered and resolved. Being able to solve a fictional mystery provides a satisfying reassurance that the fragility and unpredictability of our every day existence cannot.

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  1. I'd not thought about it like that, but sounds very reasonable to me. Apart from reading and writing in the fantasy genre, my next favourite is murder mysteries, and I like those in my fantasy too.
    I'm starting to branch out a little into some historicals now - provided they have the mystery element.
    I think you've solved the mystery of why we like them! ;)

    1. Thanks, Deborah! I've developed a passion for history in a way I never have before, and I am now reading historical novels. And I've just discovered a genre called Romantic Intrigue. So Historical Romantic Fantasy Intrigue could be a fantastic genre!