- Hardcover: 310 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Pr; American ed. edition (June 1 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0871138085
- ISBN-13: 978-0871138088
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.2 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 481 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,373,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Sunset over Chocolate Mountain Hardcover – Jun 1 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
The Arizona desert is the unlikely but stunning setting for this imaginative first novel, the beguiling and unsettling tale of an obese Englishman, a young girl, a Slovakian shoemaker and an ice cream man. Uprooting himself from dreary England when his doting mother dies, 34-year-old Theobald Moon moves to a mobile home on a one-acre plot in the desert outside Tucson, where he plans to enjoy the sun, immerse himself in New Age philosophy and yoga, plant a cactus garden and eat to his heart's content. Reminiscent of John Kennedy Toole's hero Ignatius Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces, Moon is both charming and disgusting, a large man with a sweet disposition and an uncommon interest in his bodily functions. A no-nonsense cowboy named Jersey befriends Theo, teaching him to live in and respect the desert. But just as Theo is beginning to acclimate himself, a young Slovakian shoemaker and her lover arrive in an ice cream truck and take up residence nearby. Four years later, Theo is still living in the desert, the shoemaker and her lover are gone, and Theo has a daughter, four-year-old Josephine. The mystery of Josephine's origins is revealed in flashbacks over nearly a decade as she grows up, with points of view alternating between Theo and Josephine. British author Elderkin has crafted a complex, heartbreaking tale, entwining the lives of quirky characters in an improbable but compelling narrative illustrating the agonizing potential of love to cause more pain then pleasure. The reader occasionally feels distanced from the action, and an abrupt, unnerving ending falls short, but this is a promising debut. Foreign rights sold in the U.K., Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Elderkin's first novel is a disquieting modern fairy tale set in the Arizona desert. Theobald Moon and his daughter, Josephine, live isolated and enchanted lives in a faded blue mobile home, where they are visited only by Jersey, a taciturn cowboy who takes care of practical matters for them. Flashbacks reveal Theo's life in England before he escaped to create a new home for himself in the bleak desert. Gradually, Josephine grows from a happy girl raised on candy and Theo's made-up stories into a rebellious teenager who seeks the truth about her mysterious birth. Meanwhile, Tibor and the pregnant Eva, who have fled Eastern Europe in search of a better life, arrive in town in an ice cream truck and bring further change. Like orally transmitted fairy tales of old, this work contains elements of mystery and beauty as well as cruelty and death. While well written, it is a relentlessly grim tale, and the ending does not satisfy. Recommended for extensive fiction collections.DCheryl L. Conway, Univ. of Arkansas Lib., Fayetteville
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
However, the book ends at the point where all the interesting questions are lined up ready - and not a single answer is offered! Perhaps that was intentional: maybe there is a second volume already half-written; or maybe we need to take up the quest ourselves. But after recently reading Protect And Defend I found this a stark contrast. Protect And Defend takes on some major themes and digs through the possible answers in heroic detail. Chocolate Mountains raises important questions but leaves it there.
For all that, it is a thoroughly good read, leaving you with a powerful desire to visit the deserts the author so evocatively describes. Nor will you forget the characters in a hurry.
I am an avid reader, and I do agree that her character descriptions were good, but the book overall was not suspensful, nor was it intriguing. I've read it 5 times combing it for things for my book report and character profiles, and you find something different every time because of the great detail she uses. So if you're into detail, this book is great. If you want something suspenseful pick up something else. I personally enjoyed "The Cabinet of Curiosities" much more than this book...leave this one and go buy the other...you'll be much happier in the end.