I’ve just read with great enjoyment “Candlepower” by Janet Doolaege – a contemporary novel full of mystery and intrigue. Stella lives in a small apartment in Paris where – through the close-knit of modern living – she gets to know her neighbours Rose and the dark-eyed Olivier with whom she falls in love. Rose, a figure of strange powers it seems, has a curious connection with birds and a bizarre effect on anything electrical. This uneasy triangle of friendship, subtly threaded with an underlying tension and a sense of the paranormal, makes the ordinary and the everyday seem edgy, unpredictable and even a little dangerous.
And Ms Doolaege has the remarkable ability to make you think about these ordinary and everyday things in a different way. That is what literature is all about. The difference between a story – and a story that communicates something beyond the story. The term ‘literary” has nothing to do with high-brow intellectual waffle as so many believe – but rather reflects in the little gems Ms Doolaege has weaved delicately through the narrative.
There is Stella’s strained relationship with her family in England which translates into how we often perpetuate old hurts with the smallest nudge of memory. There is the nature of friendship: what does it mean to be a good friend? What does it mean to really care? There is the paranormal: what does it mean to be genuinely gifted with powers that other people don’t understand – the prejudice, the fear, the distrust an individual may have to bear for simply being different. There is also reflection on the impact of civilization on nature: how does the way we live affect other creatures who have equal claim to our spaces? And then there is romance – the raw truth between imagination and reality, and how we often misinterpret the feelings of others.
For those who would enjoy an original, well-paced and well-written mystery with an unexpected literary slant, “Candlepower” is definitely one to pick up.