Robert Jackson Bennett

George Carole is a naturally gifted pianist.  One for who notes seem to jump off the page, without any formal training.  While he seems to have all the natural gifts and talents in the world, and at 17 he has a beautiful life ahead of him, he is not happy with himself.  He needs to go out and find out who he is.  And he will not be happy until he finds out why the man he called “father” left.  So he sets out to find and confront the man who has haunted his very existence.  He goes out to find “The Troupe.”

Robert Jackson Bennett, in his novel, “The Troupe,” beautifully explores a myriad of themes while weaving a fantastical tale of light, darkness, creation and what it means to be called a family.  It’s a blending of the real world with fantastical elements, answering the questions of why we are here, and what our purpose is along the way.  George Carole has lived a relatively normal existence when he goes out in search of his father, albeit with his grandparents.  He did have a natural talent for music but everyone seems to have gifts and talents for which they seem to have no earthly explanation.

But George Carole’s father isn’t just like any other dad.  He’s a vaudevillian.  He’s on the road almost all year long, and when George gets to the entertainment circuit, he has to wait and bide his time until his dad arrives.  But when he finds out his dad is not going to come to the place where he is at, George sets out to go out and seek him himself.   What he ends up finding is like nothing he was ever going to expect.   Sure, the man that he had found was his father, only months prior, was not going to be exactly like he had imagined.  And a reunion with him was never going to go as planned.  But this was far more than George could possibly imagine.  So much that it is hard to take in.

In this new-found world of his father, there exist fairies, demons, wolves, ghosts, and monsters so terrible it's hard to even express.  George found himself in for far more than he could have possibly dreamed.  Bennett, however, does not leave us awestruck.  What is beautiful about this story is that it’s not only a fantastical tale that takes us from one end of the world to the other and beyond.  What’s beautiful about the story is that Bennett works hard to detail the small things in this incredible world.  It’s not only a larger story of light and darkness, good and evil, and the forces of nature.  It’s also a beautifully crafted tale of fathers and sons, racism, and what it means to love someone else.  TheTroupe is not just a tale about Vaudeville and its craziness.  It’s about life and how to live it, which is what any good story should be about.

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