Tuesday 28 July 2020

A Hundred Million Years and a Day - Jean-Baptiste Andrea

Stan has been hunting for fossils since the age of six. Now, in the summer of 1954, he hears a story he cannot forget: the skeleton of a huge creature – a veritable dragon – lies deep in an Alpine glacier. And he is determined to find it.

But Stan is no mountaineer. To complete his dangerous expedition, he must call on loyal friend Umberto, who arrives with an eccentric young assistant, and expert guide Gio. Time is short: the four men must descend before the weather turns. As bonds are forged and tested, the hazardous quest for the earth’s lost creatures becomes a journey into Stan’s own past.

A Hundred Million Years and a Day is a mesmerising story of nature, adventure and of one man's determination to follow his dream, whatever it may take. 

What did I think?

I have only recently widened my reading genres to include translated French fiction and I am so glad that I have as I am constantly discovering some new amazing authors.  A Hundred Million Years and a Day is the first book of Jean-Baptiste Andrea's to be translated into English and what an absolute cracker it is.  I wasn't even half way through when I exclaimed: 'J'adore la fiction fran├žaise!' and I haven't spoken French for years!

Just putting the story to one side for a moment, Jean-Baptiste Andrea's writing is so beautiful that it conjured breathtaking pictures in my mind.  I also have to give a special mention to Sam Taylor as the wonderful translator for losing absolutely nothing in translation; the words are so stunning and flow so well that you could be forgiven for forgetting this was originally written in French.  To show you what I mean, I just have to share an excerpt that completely took my breath away:

"Who says mountains don't have feelings?  The sunrise makes them blush, after all."

On to the story itself which is haunting and mesmerising as Stan follows his dream to set off an quest to find the skeleton of a dragon buried in a glacier.  Just imagine if he can prove the legend is true!  Stan is a palaeontologist not a mountaineer, so he gathers together a small group to go up the mountain with him.  As the season changes to winter, the expedition becomes more perilous but Stan has come too far to give up now.  Just one more day of digging could be the difference between making it down from the mountain or being lost forever.

Stan may be the protagonist, but it felt like the glacier was a character in its own right; Stan is the hero dreaming of myth and legend and the glacier is the villain, patiently waiting to wreak havoc.  The landscape is described so vividly that it's so easy to picture it in your mind while you're reading and as beautiful as it sounds, the element of danger was always present.

Haunting, beautiful and completely mesmerising, A Hundred Million Years and a Day is a stunning novel and one I won't forget.  I loved it so much that I shall be returning to Stan's adventure in the future as this book is going in my bookcase to be read again.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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