With the lyricism she was lauded for in More Than You Know, Story has crafted a post-Katrina New Orleans from a fumy cloud of sad jazz and Creole spices. Though this time out her descriptive lushness meshes uneasily with the patchy, if intense, tone and plot. After the storm, Julian Fortier, a successful trumpeter, returns to look for his missing father and ends up dealing with drama: family land is threatened by developers; a past betrayal is dredged up; he's confronted with a failed romance. Amidst all this he navigates his devastated city, confronting the emotional and professional mess of his life both present and past and the more immediate problems left by the storm. Everyone he encounters is boldly drawn, and Julian's father is fantastically sympathetic, but Julian himself, the sulky center of it all, only drags things down. Readers will feel a palpable sense of frustration as plotlines sag after initial tension and the pathos and beauty of the Big Easy becomes abstract, explained more than evoked. Story has created a fine narrative web, peopled it with some skill, and brought her style and grace to the page, but none of these elements feel complete.
From the Publisher
"New Orleans natives struggle to recover their lives as well as their property after Hurricane Katrina.... Story’s musical background infuses her novel with a lyrical rhythm...as engaging characters rebuild their relationships and their city. The current oil-spill crisis only makes the hopefulness of this novel more moving, if heart-wrenching."
In this affective second novelfrom Story(More Than You Know, 2004), a Dallas-based violinist with the Fort Worth Symphony, New Orleans natives struggle to recover their lives as well as their property after Hurricane Katrina.
Julian Fortier, 36, who left Louisiana years ago to pursue his career as a jazz trumpeter and has had worldwide success, returns to New Orleans to search for his missing father Simon, 76, a retired chef whose house in the Treme neighborhood was ravaged by the hurricane. One of the first people Julian visits is Matthew Parmenter, who owned the high-end restaurant where Simon was chef and who gladly offers to help Julian's search for him. Julian believes that Matthew, who is white, cheated Simon out of his rightful share of the wealth derived from a packaged version of Simon's recipe for red beans and rice. When Matthew dies shortly thereafter, leaving his Garden District mansion and his recipe earnings to Simon, along with an apology, Julian must re-evaluate his easy judgments. Julian is also reunited with love-of-his-life Vel, who broke off their engagement shortly before he moved to New York because she refused to leave New Orleans. Now Vel accompanies Julian to Silver Creek Hollow, the Fortier family homestead north of the city where Julian hopes to find his father. Instead he discovers that a disreputable developer is attempting to wrest away the family's ownership through tricky dealings. Julian has never felt a connection to the land Simon loved, but he begins to understand his father's attachment. With the help of a fledgling lawyer (the evil developer's estranged grandson), Julian and Vel fight for the land. Meanwhile Simon lies unrecognized in a hospital. Recovering consciousness, he makes his way back to Silver Creek. Story's musical background infuses her novel with a lyrical rhythm that smooths the creakier plot machinations as engaging characters rebuild their relationships and their city.
The current oil-spill crisis only makes the hopefulness of this novel more moving, if heart-wrenching.