Book Review: How to Climb the Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein
How to Climb the Eiffel Tower is the type of novel that makes you feel alternately sad and optimistic, as well as angry and hopeful. Overall it’s a celebration of life, of courage, and of second chances.
At the beginning of the novel, Lara Blaine is an unlikeable loner. We soon learn that she is desperately trying to forget her traumatic childhood by hiding behind her perfectly organised and monotonous life, in which there is no room for close contact with anyone.
Lara is emotionally scarred, and seems to dislike or distrust everyone she interacts with. She has built an emotional wall which makes her appear to be the unfriendly, sneering colleague nobody likes to have.
As the novel progresses, her emotional scars start to heal as her physical illness gradually gives her a new perspective on life. The emotional bond she creates with Jane and her family is believably developed and truly touching.
It’s a character driven novel, in which we experience Lara’s personal conflicts and the relationships she has with other characters.
On the other hand, it is not a one-dimensional story about Lara. There is also a carefully spun plot which advances throughout the novel and revolves around her workplace, her routines, her illness, and the people she meets as a result of her treatment.
For me, How to Climb the Eiffel Tower is about empowerment. Lara needs to consciously own her own life, and open her eyes and her heart to the world. In her case, it happened through her experience as a cancer patient.
As a result, she’s finally able to face life with renewed confidence. It’s a new beginning for Lara because she’s on her way to finding inner peace, friendship, love, and professional satisfaction, too.
It’s also very well written, with a smooth prose which makes it a pleasure to read. Well worth Reading.
Five out if five stars.
Get it on Amazon.co.uk
Get in on Amazon.com
I met Elizabeth Hein a year ago on Goodreads, just after starting my own (belated) career as an author. She had already written and published her first novel, Overlook, so she was able to give me invaluable help and advice on my own writing. See my review of Overlook.
When she wrote her second novel, she was kind enough to send me an ARC to read and review. I must admit I’ve taken a long time to get around to reading it, although as soon as I started reading, it was so good that I finished it in a matter of days!
I’ll admit it. At first, I was afraid to read How to Climb the Eiffel Tower. I put it off because I was a coward for two reasons.
Firstly, I shamelessly admit that 80% of my reading is purely for pleasure. I love being transported to fictional worlds, where I’m absorbed by events taking place in other people’s lives. I don’t mind a bit of tension, but I’m not too keen on suffering while I read. I occasionally like to be shocked or shaken out of my complacency, but not too often. I know Elizabeth is a cancer survivor, and I knew this novel was about cancer patients, and I’m ashamed to admit that I was reluctant to face the pain of cancer. Also, I thought it might be a ‘tear jerker’. As I’ve explained in my review, I’m pleased to say I was completely wrong.
Secondly, I consider Elizabeth as a virtual/cyber friend, and as with any of my friends, I wouldn’t like to hurt her feelings by not liking her novel. Again, I was an idiot. I already knew she was a good writer, I should have trusted her. I should have known it would be a good novel. Well, it surpassed my expectations: It’s an amazing novel.