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A Thousand Rooms Kindle Edition
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Jones writes beautifully. Descriptions are rich, and the characters, even those on the periphery, are wonderfully developed. As the main character, Katie is thoroughly relatable with a wide range of emotions including some delightful sarcasm. I found her personal evolution compelling as her earthly concerns slip away and she discovers the essence of who she is and the point of her journey. Katie's realization of what it means to live a blessed life is uplifting and full of hope. Highly recommended for readers who love character-driven books and want to feel inspired.
"If I died tomorrow, would anyone care?"
In A Thousand Rooms, Helen Jones explores just who cares after a young woman's head-on departure from a high-pressure world. Katie works in an Australian ad agency, tiptoeing on thumbtacks to appease her overbearing boss, Darryl. She's bruised from unsavory dating experiences, primarily with a coworker named Jeremy. Jones, author of the Journey to Ambeth series, tosses laughter into an ocean of jellyfish stings. With grammatical command and physical description, Jones gives relatable, cringeworthy scenarios some light. If anything, there are very few instances of obscurity in the novel, while readers are welcome to flesh out the story with their own milestones and follies. Jones writes:
"There was a bit of a crowd around the bar and, as they parted to let us through, I saw a redhead leaning against it, talking to someone, a glass of wine in her hand. She had gorgeous hair, long and curly, and a nice figure. She was wearing jeans and a strappy top, just like me, but hers were more expensive. Still, I was with Jeremy. I turned to him and saw his face sort of, light up. The frown went and at that moment, the redhead turned and saw him. Her eyebrows went way up as she noticed me, then she was all smiles, though I could tell she was checking me out. We reached the bar and Jeremy, finally, introduced me to someone. To her."
Ah, that unflattering awkwardness, illuminated in thoughtful prose. Jones writes with magical realism, and a respect for the diversity in human experience. We see this in the different versions of Heaven presented, and Katie's roundabout journey towards her own ethereal paradise—the pair of red shoes that finally fit. While not explicitly mentioned, the novel, in its colourful youthfulness, sparks thoughts of The Wizard of Oz, Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid and one's being otherworldly, and The Princess Bride's Wesley. Jones writes a playful, yet achingly tasteful story, as readers may discover upon meeting the ever-obliging Jason.
While A Thousand Rooms fills the mind with much to discuss and reminisce upon, I do wish Jones had chosen to elaborate more on the past life experiences of the people Katie encounters. Delving further into the lives of Katie's antagonists (such as Darryl), may have added further profundity, though the story is already packed with diverse perspectives.
A Thousand Rooms completes itself with wizened contentment, an impressive feat given the protagonist's youth. The storyline quivers with humor and a work environment that reminds me of Toby Young's How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, while conversational insightfulness rings of spiritual resolution Mitch Albom offers in The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Outwardly, the novel is light, though the relationships depicted present a world and an afterlife of multidimensional possibility, where predestination and free will engage in a dance of shifting rhythms.
This is one of those rare books I simply couldn't put down. I was immediately captivated from the first sentence, and became so completely engrossed that nothing else in the world mattered for a good few hours.
This story would make a great movie that for me would be something like a cross between Ghost, and What Dreams May Come... and some.
Jones' creativity, originality, writing style, and storytelling skills are first rate. This book ticks all the boxes for a five-star work.