Like many writers, I read a lot. This book was recommended by C. Gockel, another writer whose work I enjoy. One of my favorite stories is her novelette, “Magic After Midnight,” included in the anthology Once Upon a Curse. Her description sounded interesting, and when I saw Amazon reviews comparing Karen Lord’s work to Ursula K. LeGuinn’s and Jane Austen’s, two more of my favorite authors, I was sold.
I bought the book right before I went on vacation and read it in a couple of days. While I was on vacation, I read it twice more . Then I read through my favorite parts a few more times. Do I need to say I really love this book? In every re-read I discover something new, another layer, or something that only later becomes clear.
A brief synopsis: after the destruction of the planet Sadira and the genocide of most its people, the refugee Sadiri emigrate to the colony world of Cygnus Beta, hoping to find there remnant populations of Sadiri. Dllenahkh, a Sadiri savant, joins forces with Cygnian Grace Delarua for the yearlong, government-sponsored search intended to save the Sadiri people.
So what made me enjoy this book so much? For one thing, it’s exactly the kind of thing I like to read (and write)– a story heavily focused on the characters, their inner worlds, their growth and relationships. And yes, a little romance, too.
I absolutely loved Dllenahkh and Delarua, the narrator. Delarua’s humorous, down-to-earth personality sparkles throughout the book. Despite the driving tragedy of the destruction of the Sadiri homeworld and most of the population, the plot focuses on healing and moving forward, making it particularly uplifting.
I read a fair amount of romance, a genre that inevitably focuses on relationships. The romances I enjoy the most tend to be in the vein of Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte. Not necessarily chaste, but following a believable arc. No “insta-love” or jumping into bed at every likely (and unlikely) opportunity, but two people gradually coming together.
Dllenahkh’s and Delarua’s courtship is as delicate as any of Jane Austen’s couples. It’s a delight reading about two very different people getting to know, respect and value each other. There’s certainly an undercurrent of physical attraction, but it takes a back seat to the personal aspects of the relationship.
While the Sadiri borrow heavily from Star Trek’s Vulcans (logical, telepathic, long-lived, physically stronger than ordinary humans), Delarua’s empathic experience of them gives them much more depth and humanity. Though they express it little, the emotional lives of the Sadiri are as complex as any other human’s.
If I have any complaint, it’s that I wish Lord had given more physical description of her characters. Delerua isn’t described until about halfway through the book, and Dllenahkh not until the very end.
The Best of All Possible Worlds might be a little bit of a genre-bender. Hardcore SF fans might be put off by the romantic aspect and romance readers might be unsatisfied with the low-key romance. But for me, the book was almost perfect, one for my “favorites” shelf.