Book Review: The Language Of Paradise is torn between two worlds

Religion often tries to help people reconcile the world they live in, grounded in practical needs and desires, with the worlds they can imagine. It’s a conflict that weighs heavily on the characters of Barbara Klein Moss’ debut novel The Language Of Paradise, but also brings down the entire book. By dividing her focus between the relatable, if mundane, and the pursuit of something greater, she produces a book that spans diverse subjects but deals with them shallowly.

Set in Massachusetts during the rise of the transcendentalist movement in the 1830s, The Language Of Paradise follows Sophy, the flighty adopted daughter of a Calvinist pastor and professor, and Gideon, a theology student fascinated with linguistics. Gideon writes his thesis on ancient efforts to see what language might develop in infants cut off from speaking adults, and is persuaded by a charismatic teacher, Leander, to try the experiment using Gideon …

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