When I initially picked this book, I was expecting to be completely disturbed by it, and didn’t really believe I’d like it. But actually, I found parts of it kind of interesting. When you think about an epistolary novel, you’d imagine that the letter format would be self-reflective, i.e. taking on the form of the writer, embodying that person’s thought processes and feelings. In this novel, though, that doesn’t always seem to be the case. While the reader does get a sense of Gemma’s fear, anxiety and confusion about her immediate situation as she recounts her experiences, in the end, I think we learn more about Ty than Gemma. Though when you think about it, reading in between the lines of Gemma’s descriptions, her letter does indeed reflect her character. From her interactions with Ty and the few memories she recounts about her friends and home life, Gemma appears shy, reserved and aloof—it’s only when she believes that she’s alone and doesn’t feel that she has an audience, that she becomes less inhibited. Her letter, which will have an eventual audience, takes on that characterization. Christopher does this well. Though I must state that part of me did wonder what this book would have been like if it was written as a true correspondence between Ty and Gemma…having that duel voice throughout, or at least having Ty’s voice bookend Gemma’s letter—like what Anne Brontë does in [b:The Tenant of Wildfell Hall|337113|The Tenant of Wildfell Hall|Anne Brontë|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ARyCk5iGL._SL75_.jpg|1389477]—Gilbert Markham’s voice complementing Helen’s.
The spiritual aspects of the book were also well done. I liked reading about Ty’s deep spiritual connection with the land, how it brings beauty and a sense of cohesion and happiness. At times, this spiritual intensity has an eerie quality that seems almost too overpowering, especially when he talks about how he acted as Gemma’s guardian angel for all those years. At these times, it almost does seem like he becomes one of those spirits he’s in awe of…those ancient ancestors of the land. I also loved that scene describing Ty’s work of art. In a way, Ty has a sort of purity about him—a spiritual innocence, where transgressions of human law can seem merely insignificant if they’re surpassed by something, that in his eyes, becomes infinitely more important to him…. Though I do wish Christopher would have omitted the section describing how Ty earned the money to build his ranch. I think the story might have worked better if Ty was both spiritually and physically innocent and uncorrupted. That one description allows the reader to question Ty’s ultimate motivation and intensions related to his choice of action. In other words, is it really something personal or could it also be based on a greater outward act of defiance, a response to all of his past sufferings related to the things he’s had to do….
While I did have some reservations, ultimately, I did enjoy reading this book and I do like how Christopher ends Gemma’s letter. Though I do wish Christopher wrote Stolen
using a duel perspective, which would have given the novel that extra depth I feel the book lacks.