Sunday, October 2, 2011

Indie Author Claude Nougat - Forget the Past (Trilogy Book 1)

In Forget the Past, a young, child genius turns seventeen and suffers burnout from the world that he knows. The once video game programmer leaves his home in search of his roots in Italy. 

While meandering through the streets of an Italian city where his ancestors originated, Tony comes across a Circolo di Conversazione. Tony isn't quite sure what he is expecting, but what he encounters changes his world, forever. 

Inside of the Circolo di Conversazione, he meets an odd group of people, thousands of people, milling about talking loudly. These people all claim to be members of the Bellomo family. Tony's ancestors.  The family origin goes back 900 years. The leader of the family, Don Ugone, commands Tony to stay, allow them to use his "life energy", and watch the plays that the family members put on. 

These plays are not merely the family members acting out their stories; they somehow relive their experiences for the entire Circolo di Conversazione to see. All of the members then gather in another room and discus the choices of the family member. The point of the Circolo, it seems, is talking about and understanding the turning points of each other's lives. 

Tony meets many people from his family, but of course, he doesn't believe that they really are who they claim to be. He spends almost the entire book assuming that they are actors in an elaborate play. 

Tony meets many family members while he is in the Circolo, and I'm not sure what purpose many of them serve. He simply watches play after play and is introduced to many different family members whose lives span hundreds of years. 

I'm sure Tony was supposed to learn something about himself while in the Circolo, but I wasn't very clear on what it was that he learned. There were a few 'ah ha' moments where you could see the light bulb go off in Tony's mind, but most of the story was getting to know bits and pieces his family's history.

The dialogue of the story was a bit overdone. Characters talked and then continued to explain what they meant. Authors need to learn to give their readers credit and allow them to come to their own conclusions, especially when the point is crystal clear. Another point on the dialogue: characters conversations didn't seem to fit with the situation. In one instance, a character is sitting on a fishing boat when her lover enters the scene. He approaches her, and she doesn't want anyone to know of their relationship. Instead of a short, terse conversation with the man, she engages him in a conversation about how they know the same people and where they are from. If I were in that situation, my mind wouldn't be on similar acquaintances but on getting him to leave me alone.  

The story lines of the different characters were often twisted and in-depth, and I was often left wondering about certain characters' stories. I don't feel like I learned anything about the main character, but many bits and pieces of the family history. This makes me wonder what the second and third books in the trilogy are going to bring. Will what he learned about his family somehow help him in his struggle to find happiness and peace? Will this new found knowledge prevent him from moving on? Will new demons find him after uncovering so many old, hidden family secrets?

The book was well written, and the premise was intriguing. I do wish the story line had moved on a little faster, but we will have to wait and see what book two brings. 


  1. Thanks for posting this insightful review! I hadn't realized you'd done it (perhaps you sent me an email but I never got it) and yes, I agree with you, the first book only lays the basis for Tony's search for self.

    This is really a TRILOGY.

    In the second book - Reclaim the Present - (it's out already)Tony is trapped in the mind of his great great grandfather and watches helplessly the fortunes of his family collapse. How can he "reclaim the present"? He's beginning to see the light of day and how to do it when in Book 3,Remember the Future (out at the end of November), new troubles develop before he can "find himself".

    In that sense it is a YA book, a coming of age saga.

    The basic issue of the book? It focuses on a question that affects us all: is heredity destiny? Can we escape our family inheritance? Because the latest science suggests genetic inheritance shapes our lives even when we don't know it. It is a hidden form of "slavery" to the past and it really raises the question of individual freedom. Hence the title for the trilogy: fear of the past.

    We are not normally given the chance Tony has been given: meeting ALL his ancestors and discovering exactly WHO he really takes after. He discovers he has more affinities with an 18th century English adventurer who fell in love with the Duchess of Floridia than with his own father. By the way, the Duchess is a real historical character (she married the King of Naples in 1814 when she was...44!) Just about everyone Tony meets in the Circolo is based on real historical characters.

    So by end of book one, Tony knows he takes after this English adventurer but he also knows that the poor man was a failure in his life (the Duchess married the King of Naples and not him). By the end of book two, Tony realizes that Fortune can be perversely contrary but that the cards to play in your life are yours to play. By book 3, he's playing them to the hilt, and as he is a computer whiz kid, he devises a brilliant social network called the Chat Club that immediately starts to compete with Facebook. But soon he finds himself battling violent Russian hackers who try to bring down his Chat Club and have also kidnapped the woman of his dreams (she looks like the Duchess of course but she's very much a modern-day woman)...

    Will he make it? Well, it's only at the end of book 3, that you discover both what his life means to him and how he handles that issue of heredity...

    But I really enjoyed your comments and found them very useful. Thank you for reading the book and writing about it! I hope you'll want to read book 2 and 3!