Mindy Tar­quini

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - AMY O’LOUGH­LIN

Spark­press Soft­cover $16.95 (315pp) 978-1-943006-01-4

This in­trigu­ing chron­i­cle of past lives em­pha­sizes the im­por­tance of act­ing in the here and now.

Mindy Tar­quini’s Hind­sight is an evoca­tive and in­ven­tive rein­car­na­tion tale that chron­i­cles the past lives of an in­trigu­ing as­sort­ment of char­ac­ters as they seek redemp­tion for long-ago wrongs, yearn­ing to in­flu­ence the course of their next in­car­na­tions.

An up­roar­i­ous but for­lorn Chaucer pro­fes­sor, Eu­ge­nia is haunted by mem­o­ries of her for­mer lives. She was once Chaucer’s con­fi­dante and in­spi­ra­tion for a char­ac­ter in The Can­ter­bury Tales, as well as a col­lab­o­ra­tor in a hor­rific Bavar­ian event, now four hun­dred years in the past. She moves be­tween ac­cept­ing her hind­sight—the abil­ity to re­mem­ber past lives— and spec­u­la­tion that she’s men­tally ill. When leav­ing one life for an­other, she for­feits lovers, con­tent­ment, and sta­bil­ity. Eu­ge­nia wants a ra­tio­nal ex­pla­na­tion, and to avoid re­peat­edly con­fronting her grief. Her wrench­ing mis­ery is con­veyed in im­pec­ca­ble prose.

Nearly ev­ery­one Eu­ge­nia knows also ex­isted in her past. Some don’t rec­og­nize her. Some do— es­pe­cially her stu­dent, Friedrich, who pushes her

to ex­plore their tainted his­tory, hop­ing to ex­pi­ate his trans­gres­sions be­fore he’s dragged into his next life. What fol­lows is an in­tense, spec­u­la­tive, and mul­ti­lay­ered un­veil­ing of char­ac­ters’ var­ied in­car­na­tions through­out time, in­clud­ing the in­flu­ence they’ve had on one an­other and the con­se­quences of their deeds. Lively and con­trolled writ­ing re­veals the in­ter­sec­tion be­tween past and present, and the novel’s oth­er­world­li­ness never over­shad­ows its pathos and hu­man­ity. Witty di­a­logue, un­der­scored by Eu­ge­nia’s en­ter­tain­ing voice, pre­vents Hind­sight from fall­ing into gloomi­ness.

Draw­ing on snip­pets of wis­dom from long­gone lit­er­ary giants, in­clud­ing Chaucer, Dante, Goethe, and Ki­pling, Tar­quini il­lus­trates the eter­nal uni­ver­sal­ity of hu­man be­hav­ior. And while the prospect of get­ting a sec­ond chance at life is tan­ta­liz­ing, Tar­quini’s nar­ra­tive em­pha­sizes the im­por­tance of act­ing in the here and now: say­ing what should be said, for­giv­ing what needs to be for­given, em­brac­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to deepen con­nec­tions with oth­ers, and seiz­ing mo­ments of hap­pi­ness when they’re pre­sented. Con­se­quently, Hind­sight is a sus­tain­ing and deeply per­sonal read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

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