First Impression Friday: “Crossings” by Alex Landragin

Good morning and welcome back to First Impression Friday! It’s been a hot minute since I took some time to write here, and I keep thinking “Today will be the day when I pick up a book and read it,” but it looks like the only books I’m actually reading currently are the ones that arrive from my Fantastic Stranglings Book Club subscription.

This month’s Fantastic Stranglings book is Crossings by Alex Landragin. It’s difficult to describe exactly what’s going on here, so here’s a description from BookShop:

On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence.The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations.With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary. Crossings is an unforgettable adventure full of love, longing and empathy.

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when I got this book in the mail. It seemed like something that would be right up my alley, but I was worried because I’d read some things online about a “secret” way to read the book and I didn’t know if I wanted to keep track of it.

Much to my surprise, the “secret” way to read the book (The Baroness Sequence) is described in the very front of the book, and there are page numbers at the end of each chapter that shows you where to go next. I decided that on my first read through of the book, I would read it chronologically, then wait a bit and try to read it through again in the Baroness Sequence. That means this book is going to get two reviews from me.

So far, the first section of the book (the Charles Baudelaire section) is a little confusing, but I assume that all will be made clear with time. I am very much looking forward to this, and I have no idea where this will all lead by the time I close that back cover. I’m hoping there’s something supernatural, especially when I hit the third story of the seven-generation woman. (I haven’t gotten to the “ghost” part of the Baudelaire section yet.)

Have you picked up Crossings? Have you decided which way to read the book yet? Let me know in the comments!

And as always, keep reading.

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