“In ambitiously categorising this book as Literary Romance and Realism the author has not overstated its quality.
The lovely, complex language is redolent of a more leisurely age in reading, when being able to get through a book quickly was not the imperative it is to many today. The story, also, is complex and veers wildly, for me, between extreme realism and extreme surrealism.
Definitely not a book for the casual reader if only because of its length, which at 200,000+ words is more than twice the size of most books on shelves today. It demands total attention and lengthy sojourns within its pages. It deserves prolonged immersion.
Reminiscent of serialisation of novels in past times, chapters finish on cliff-hangers. The tensions are well-maintained, aided by successive chapters swapping between the two main characters.
I found I had to persevere for the first several chapters—the detail makes for slow going. In fact, this is true throughout the book but as I became used to and accepted the degree of exposition the more I found myself falling under its spell.
The title CLOTHO’S LOOM is a reference to Clotho, one of the Three Fates, who was responsible for spinning the thread of human life. References to the warp and woof, as allusions to the vagaries weaving through lives, run through the story. At one point the female protagonist actually restores and uses a handloom.
The story: Will and Nexus are a childless couple approaching middle age. He is a university professor, she a lawyer. In his youth Will was in the military and it’s the experience and specialist knowledge he holds that on his 39th birthday sees him being inducted back into service. From there it’s a downward spiral of competition between the factions wanting him while the philosophy of each constantly wars within him. He abandons his wife just as she falls pregnant, leaving her to fend for herself in an unsatisfactory and often unnerving office situation.
Both undergo extreme physical and emotional tests. In searching for their own paths do they find each other again? One wonders how, given the path down which Will allows himself to be led. But given the sub-title ‘A novel of romance ...’ one could be forgiven for thinking, perhaps hoping, that somehow all obstacles are overcome.
I was less taken with the character of Sage, an almost goddess-type who befriends Nexus. What transpires between them is a little too vague at times. I couldn’t quite believe in her.
Whew! was my reaction on completion. For the length, for the complexity, for the language, for the scope, and for StJean’s vision in writing it.”
Alana Woods wrote this review Saturday, December 22, 2012.