Black Inked Pearl: A Girl's Quest
By: Ruth Finnegan
Publisher: Garn Press
Publication Date: August 2015
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Finnegan spins a refreshing, one-of-a-kind love story in her epic novel Black Inked Pearl.
Kate is fifteen years of age at the time she meets her enigmatic lover by the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal, Ireland. Although entranced, Kate's youth and inexperience push her to immediately reject her lover. Under the tutelage and spiritual instruction of the nuns at convent school, Kate finds herself vacillating between feelings of guilt and desires for pure love. As a result, Kate longs to be in her lover's presence, constantly keeping to a dreamy state. Growing up in Ireland, "she knew her fate was a quiet, gentle one. Among the paths of faerie, Tir na nOg, enchanted dreams and histories...Just an ordinary girl. In a magical world."
Years later as a successful young businesswoman, Kate appears to put away childish things, finding many yet superficial loves en route. Traveling to the Congo in Africa, Kate is caught off guard when she listens to a storyteller's version of the Garden of Eden story. It is in the retelling that her heart is stirred and she once again finds herself longing for the presence of her lover. In her quest for love and happiness, Kate makes her way to various places—both corporeal (i.e., Donegal, Ireland; St. Pancras, London; an old-aged home) and intangible (i.e., hell, heaven, and Eden). Although Kate is often in a quandary about life and love, her viewpoint begins to change when she meets a beetle that points her in the right direction and literally out of the pit of hell.
Finnegan's writing style transcends all concepts, definitions, and boundaries of storytelling, leaving readers to draw their own interpretations. Using a combination of prose and poetry, Finnegan weaves in segments of secular and sacred works of Shakespeare, Rumi, W. B. Yeats, Wittgenstein (philosopher), Homer, William Blake, Milton, Rider Haggard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as various Christian prayers within Kate's quest for true love. Finnegan's third person narrative keeps to a near lilting style reminiscent of Irish literature that carries its own trance-like quality. Since Finnegan's plot constantly highlights allusions, it is difficult to tell when scenes shift from reality to surreal and vice versa.
That said, Kate's journey evokes a progressive dream. Indeed, many scenes are replete with nonsensical situations, people, beasts, celestial beings, and to top the list, a talking beetle. Considered one of God's lowly creatures, the beetle (nicknamed Mickey, which the beetle finds disrespectful so the name is only mentioned once) functions to some extent like Jiminy Cricket, encouraging Kate (so-to-speak) to "let her conscience be her guide." With so many references to God and Kate's self-awareness, one could easily interpret that Kate is on a spiritual quest and that her search for true love begins with loving herself first and foremost.
Quill says: A highly atypical romance tale, Black Inked Pearl is a must read for those who desire a deeper understanding in the realm of love!