Every once in a while, you come across a book that feels like a present. The Thorn and the Blossom was that for me. Published in 2012, this book was on my list for a while, but I always seemed to forget it existed. I remember wanting it when it first came out, then I completely forgot about it. A few weeks ago, I saw it on the bargain priced shelf at Barnes & Noble; it was only $5 and I threw it on top of my purchase pile and that was it. In March, we had a snow day from work, and I read this book in one sitting.
It was enchanting, simple, lovely, and the perfect way to while away an hour or two. The most unique thing about this book is the binding, or the lack thereof. It’s a short, simple love story told in two perspectives: from Evelyn’s perspective and from Brendan’s, lovers who keep meeting and separating over the course of a few years. They meet in Cornwall, England when they’re both college-age, then again ten years later, and finally a couple years after that.
The book is printed back to back, and the pages are arranged in an according style so that if you choose to read Evelyn’s story first, by the time you’ve reached the end, the back cover of Evelyn’s story becomes the front cover of Brendan’s. It’s an amazing object in that way.
It’s a beautiful book, but what about the story? “Simple and lovely” is the phrase I’d use to describe it. It’s a pretty straightforward love story with one huge caveat: it’s based on an Arthurian legend unique to Cornwall, about Sir Gawain and his lost love (this version of the story may or may not be made up specifically for this book). From the beginning of the novel, it’s clear that there’s more to Evelyn than meets the eye, and that there’s some destiny drawing Evelyn and Brendan together time and time again.
As a romantic, I loved this book. I adore small books that do well being a small book, and stories that warm your heart. This was both of those!