1. What do you think of the structure of the novel? It’s a story within a story (sort of within a story). We have Professor Rossi’s storyline, Paul’s reflections, and the daughter’s adventures. And letters. There’s a lot going on!
I think it's effective, but that's not to say that it isn't annoying me just slightly! There are three stories: Professor Rossi in the olden days, Paul in the mid-olden days, his daughter reading letters from both Rossi and Paul. If dueling narrators annoy me, you know this gets under my skin just a weeeee bit. Though, truthfully, I think it is more effective, and it builds greater suspense than a straightforward narrative. But, I gotta tell you, with three first-person narrators hopping back and forth between them, or laying the book down for a day or two can really cause problems when ya pick it back up and try to remember what's going on.
2. What are your thoughts on Helen’s characterization? Have you warmed to her?
Ugh, she's terribly unlikable but I don't think she's a blood-sucking fiend. She's just a cold fish. I hope she warms up at some point, but at 400 pages in, I have my doubts!
3. What do you think of the peripheral characters? Are their motivations pure? I’m thinking of Turget, Helen’s family members, etc.
I'm suspect of Turgut. Who JUST SHOWS UP in a restaurant? But then again, there are several instances of wonderful happy accidents. We'll see if they materialize into anything else later in the book.
4. Other thoughts on this book?
I'm liking it overall. Just wish the narration were a wee tad less complicated. But that's a personal peeve of mine. I have about 300 pages left, and I'm curious to see where it all goes!