Faces in the Sand
By Richard MacLeod
Richard MacLeod’s novel of family and love is brimming with well-developed characters, a stirring plot and a thrilling ending. MacLeod is a gifted writer. The panorama of feelings and experiences in Faces in the Sand reads as an epic novel – filled with charisma and beauty. Here, we find inviting characters and vivid descriptions. There is nothing dry or sluggish about this novel.
We are quickly immersed within the mind of Portia, a therapist who searches desperately for the true memory of her dying father. MacLeod deftly reveals the warm longing and devotion of a loving daughter and her desperate search for experiences lost and found. Her father, like so many others, was a victim of World War II. After twenty-five years of absence, Portia searches for meaning in their missing relationship. They had become strangers, absent in a life of warm wishes. She felt deserted, betrayed and unloved; yet on his deathbed, Portia gently strokes his head, as she would a dearly-loved child. As she reflects upon her childhood and beyond, MacLeod showers readers with a rich tapestry of descriptions, layering vivid imagery and metaphor adroitly.
MacLeod’s comprehension of psychology is revealed through Portia as she ruminates over the people parading through her life. It is a tapestry of conceptions; thoughts leading to new ideas, leading to new understanding. Through the eyes of her patients, Portia, a skilled therapist, explores the same vivid feelings of abandonment, fear and desire that she so desperately desires to work out in her own life. Through her father’s old friends and a myriad of letters, her father’s idyllic and heroic life pours out to her. Portia grows through the experience, as do all abandoned children who seek to understand life, love and opportunities lost.
Revealed through letters from Portia’s father in Faces in the Sand is the agony and abject fear of battle via soldiers in World War II. MacLeod explores the terror of battle in North Africa and beyond. But memories became reality and reality fade into conjecture. The ending is shocking and thrilling. No one is who they appeared to be. Reality turns fantasy upside down.
MacLeod explores the feelings of children whose parents are not who they appear to be. In this case, the protagonist has a father who becomes larger than life. Portia’s father is a hero, who deeply loves her, yet fails as a father because of circumstances well beyond his control. Here is a story of lost love, the terror of war and one child who wishes to pull all of the pieces together. The ending is shocking and penetrating.
Faces in the Sand is a powerful piece of fiction that appeals to everyone who has had a mysterious or lost parent or spouse. Life is often far from our expectations or understanding. MacLeod proffers a depth of character penetration within a believable story of war, family, love and lost relationships. This is a book that will remain with the reader for an eternity.
Charles S. Weinblatt
Author, Jacob’s Courage