Thursday, April 16, 2020

Fiction Review: The Lost Book of Adana Moreau

One of the selections for Booktopia 2020 this year was The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata. This unique novel has a fairy-tale like feel as it chronicles the lives of generations of two immigrant families and how one book brought them together.

The novel begins in the early decades of the 20th century, when a pirate moves to New Orleans and marries a woman who is an orphan from the Dominican Republic. The two of them love each other very much and have a son named Maxwell. Maxwell grows up in New Orleans in his early years, walking the streets of the city. His mother loves to read science fiction and writes her own sci fi novel called Lost City that deals with multiple universes and alternative timelines. She publishes the book and writes a sequel, A Model Earth, but on her deathbed, she and Maxwell burn the only copy of the second book. Shortly afterward, Maxwell's father, the pirate, leaves, and Maxwell, left on his own, eventually sets off in search of him.

Then, the action shifts to 2005. Saul, a Jewish immigrant, is cleaning out his beloved grandfather's apartment in Chicago after his death. An envelope is delivered to the apartment that has been returned in the mail, addressed to Maxwell Moreau, that his grandfather had tried to send. Inside is the manuscript for A Model Earth, which had supposedly been destroyed (though Saul knows nothing of that). With a bit of research, he realizes that Maxwell's mother wrote the book, and his grandfather had been trying to return it to him. Saul takes on his grandfather's mission of trying to find Maxwell and sets off with a childhood friend who is a journalist. Their search takes them to post-Katrina New Orleans.

This is a fascinating and convoluted story of multiple generations of two families who are interrelated. With a lyrical writing style, it has dream-like feel to it. For instance, in those early chapters, Maxwell's parents are referred to as the pirate and the Dominicana, sounding a bit like a fairy tale. The novel is also packed full of historical, literary, and scientific references, including dinosaurs, the Holocaust, astronomy, Greek mythology, and more. Plus, Adana's novels are described in the midst of this novel, with a book-within-a-book set-up that connects in some ways to the real-life stories surrounding them. I always enjoy novels with two intertwined stories, and this one takes a long time to finally show how Maxwell and Saul's grandfather were connected, along the way delving into each of their family's histories, which both center around immigrants. The author weaves a complicated but intriguing story that is compelling and engrossing, filled with interesting facts and thoughtful concepts that will keep you thinking long after you finish the book.

272 pages, Hanover Square Press

Listen to a sampleof the audiobook here, where you can hear the dreamlike quality of the narration of Coral Peña, and/or download it from Audible.

You can purchase The Lost Book of Adana Moreau from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit

Or you can order The Lost Book of Adana Moreau from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. Dream-like feel doesn't bode well for me, but I am so glad you liked this one! Hope you are feeling better this week.

    1. Yeah, not really my thing, either, but it grew on me, Helen! The intriguing story pulled me in.

  2. Sounds such a good story.