From the outside looking in, it appears that Elizabeth Percerís new novel, All Stories are Love Stories, is about two devastating earthquakes that rock San Francisco and cause massive destruction. However, as soon as you open the book and begin reading, you realize that itís about so much more (hence the
title of the book).
Though the earthquakes occur relatively early on in the book, the true stars of the show are the people. There are Vashti and Max, a couple separated by years, unforeseen tragedy, and buried feelings
which neither of them have been able to get over. Then there is Gene, the geologist who long ago predicted this cataclysmic event but takes no joy in being right as the quake prevents him from being at his ailing loverís side. These three incredibly deep and well-drawn characters are joined by a host of othersóincluding a gawky, love-struck teenager, a drag queen turned nun, and Maxís never-seen but ever-present overprotective mother. Together they tell a story that never fails to draw you in.
All of the action takes place within a short time frame, but characters are fleshed out by long flashbacks to explain how they have gotten to this particular place in time and how the relationships they have experienced have made them who they are. Each character struggles with feelings of despair yet finds something deep within themselves when true tragedy strikes.
The book is not only about love stories between people. Itís also a love story about San Francisco and how the city itself affects those living within its limits. Some of the characters grew up in the picturesque town, while others are transplants from different ways of life. But each one of them has something to say about how the city has affected them and how the earthquake has destroyed something much deeper than architecture and landscape.
Fast-paced and incredibly absorbing, Percerís writing is like getting a glimpse into a private diary. The characterís stories are so touching that some revelations almost cause physical pain. There is a general sense of foreboding about the book, and the reader knows deep down that not everyone is going to make it. This creates an even stronger poignancy with each revelation as we know that some of the charactersí time is growing short.
Though the ending is a bit abrupt for such a masterfully strong buildup, All Stories are Love Stories will stay with you. Not only will you have a new appreciation for the power of love, but youíll also feel an affinity toward a wholly unique city that is just as strong
in character as any of Percerís other creations.