T'ONGIL: THE THIRST FOR
Stillmind Publishing, November 2002
Reviewed by Sissy Jacobson
Ainsley Revere was raised by Grandfather, a man who taught him the deep spiritual beliefs of his people. These lessons remained a part of him throughout his life. As a child, he was given the name Falling Feather because every time a momentous occasion occurred in his life, a feather mysteriously floated down to land beside him.
As a grown man, Ainsley becomes an authority on large cats. He has a mystical connection with the tigers and jaguars that he loves. A solitary man, he is closer to the cats than to humans. His only friends are his coworker, Jordan, who has been with him since the beginning, and his assistant, Gilana, who works with him daily. However, even after years of being with Ainsley, they really do not know nor understand him. Ainsley allows no one near.
Ainsley gains media attention and is honored as a hero when he rescues a small girl who falls into the tiger compound. With the help of one of the tigers that keeps the other cats away, he is able to reach the child, pick her up and bring her out. Just before he reaches her, he sees a feather float down and settle near the child's head. The publicity gained from the rescue is good for his institute, but very uncomfortable for this very private man.
Shortly after the rescue, he visits a brothel and meets a beautiful Korean woman named Rose. Her soothing touch and caring ways bring peace to Ainsley and change to his life. He no longer wants to be alone; he wants to be with Rose. He is able to communicate with her as he can with only one other person, Grandfather. With each visit to the brothel, he learns more about Rose. He learns her name is Changmi and she was raised in an orphanage in Korea. There, the girls were sold to brothels when they reached a certain age. Because of who and what she is, Changmi has never allowed herself to dream of love, marriage, and family. Ainsley shows her she can have these things: he loves her and wants to marry her.
One day after visiting Rose at the brothel, Ainsley wanders into a restaurant where he meets a waitress named Kit, an outgoing, beautiful, graceful Korean woman. He knows they have never met, but she seems so familiar to him. They establish an immediate rapport and become friends. When she turns to go into the kitchen for his food, a feather floats down and lands near his leg.
The day Changmi accepts Ainsley's proposal and leaves the brothel with him, he takes her to meet Kit, who has also fallen deeply in love with him. Face to face, Changmi and Kit are mirror images of each other. Of course, the connection between the two is immediate; the two halves become a whole. Each sister was raised believing she is an only child; Kit, raised by her father, and Changmi, raised in the orphanage, where her real name was Ri.
Which sister will have Ainsley's love for a lifetime? How is Ainsley repaid for his years of love and devotion to the big cats that have been his life's work?
T 'ONGIL is written in a rhythmic, poetically mystical language, and by simplifying it for review, I feel I haven't done justice to this intense, non-traditional love story between a Korean woman and Native American man.
Because of the almost lyrical writing style, and because I was afraid to miss something important to the story, I found this novel to be a slow read. There were no highs nor lows, just an unrelieved intensity that became almost like a monotone after a while. Though this story has stayed with me long after I finished the book, I would like to see the writer vary his work with some light and movement, making the reader want to turn the page to see what happens next.
T 'ONGIL, a first novel by Julian Winter, proves this author has promise. I plan to follow Mr. Winter's work to see how he evolves as a writer of note.
First reviewed by Sissy Jacobson for The Word On Romance
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