In a world where beauty and glamor are sought above all, Neil M. Campbell has written and interesting and yet intriguing novel, based on the life of one man, handsome to the extreme, always surrounded by beautiful women, Park Delafield. In his usual way he has insulted one of the ugliest women he has ever seen, and as he is knocked to the ground by one of her friends and defenders, he has a sudden realization that he is a shallow man. There is nothing that will save him from himself, nothing except this woman, with her rare ability to attract people; this is due not to her looks but her inner beauty. He is determined to meet her and get to know her. His disgust with himself is without bounds and he must know her.
Chloe Lambert had never had any problem with understanding her lot in life. She cannot even stand to look in her own mirror, and has had to live with her looks for her entire life. She does not dwell on it and lives her life to the best of her ability, enjoying her job and her friends, never expecting the things that most women look for in life. Life for her has been difficult with the name calling and rudeness and she has tried to look beyond all that. When a gorgeous young man begins to follow her and try to meet with her she is suspicious and not at all inclined to give him the time of day. And yet she cannot seem to detach him — he is everywhere. Her curiosity gets the best of her and she begins to allow him to get close, much to the dismay and worry of some of her friends. When trust finally begins to set in, Park finds that to those closest to her, she is known as Lena, and he finds he is drawn in even more. To be trusted with something so personal, a part of her inner self excites him beyond reason.
This gradual softening and dance around each other does draw them together and yet Park has not really grown into what he believes is necessary to change his life. As he draws Chloe out of her shell and finds that he really enjoys her, he still struggles with his inner demons, those that have guided him to this time and place, and his reason for seeking out Chloe in the first place.
In Neil M. Campbell’s, The Advent of Lena: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast, betrayal and confusion set in, tearing the two main characters apart. And yet through it all Park continues to pursue Chloe, trying to get his life back on track. Will he become the man he wants to be, or will he destroy Chloe in the process?
The Advent of Lena is a strange yet thoughtful look into the psyche of two different and diverse individuals. Park is self-indulgent and spoiled; looking only for the gratification he believes is his, until he meets Chloe. When he is hurt by her protector for making a comment on her looks he takes a deep look into his own life. Seeing the ugliness within, realizing that it may be worse than what may show on the outside, he takes stock and determines that he must change his life and who he is. He is also determined that this is only possible through Chloe herself, she who wears her ugliness with style and distinction. And yet he is so flawed he hurts even those that have been close to him for years. He struggles with the changes he is attempting to make, falling from grace time after time. And yet he is a likable guy, and it feels as though he wants to change, but time and nurture make it difficult.
Chloe is a strong woman on the outside, having to hide her hurt and anguish from those around her. The tough exterior only hides her insecurities. She has a great job and wonderful friends, but has never been pursued; she does understand how her looks affect people. She is unsure and nervous about what Park is after, and yet he finally wears her down. It is through soul searching and trial and error that they determine the path where they are headed.
While the old adage “Beauty is only Skin Deep” applies — but with a bit of difference — The Advent of Lena is an interesting and thought provoking look at what matters in life and love.
This would be an insightful book full of great discussions for a book club or reading group. It is intriguing with a different perspective than most, an odd but quirky love story.