Gauguin’s Moon

THE BOOK: Gauguin’s Moon.


THE AUTHOR: Laura Marello.

THE EDITOR: Michael Mirolla.

THE PUBLISHER: Guernica Editions, Toronto.  Literary publisher in Canada since 1978.

SUMMARY: Daniella believes her lost mother is a World War II spy, but is terrorized by a dream of a war-torn jungle, raining fire. At forty, with her life and career stalled, Daniella is visited by four dead ancestors, who try to help her put her life back together. When this fails, propelled by curiosity about her recurring dream, she travels to the nuclear testing grounds at the Bikini Islands, to find out her mother’s real role in the war and its aftermath.

Image result for Laura Marello + author + photoTHE BACK STORY: “I wrote it in two years, in the mid 1990s. I was interested in a woman reaching forty who was curious to find out what her mother had done for the intelligence services after WWII.”

WHY THIS TITLE?: Gauguin’s Moon – in the novel, the main character discovers her mother’s involvement in nuclear testing in the Central Pacific Islands in the 1950s. She goes there, meets the people, they tell her about the culture. The Pacific Island cultures are similar. Gauguin’s time in Tahiti is mentioned. The moon is often mentioned, as it is used for navigation.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The book is about family, art, a woman’s search for her lost mother, and the environmental issue of nuclear testing. Anyone interested in any of those topics might enjoy reading the book.


“Laura Marello’s latest novel, Gauguin’s Moon, seethes with an intoxicating blend of wit, pathos, and hilarity that keeps us laughing even as it confronts us with disturbing truths — both personal and political. Her narrator, Daniella, is a 40-year-old artist who wakes one morning to find her home invaded by her dead mother, dead aunt, and two dead lovers, “all stylish people — my mother and Aunt Charlotte in the l940s, Upper West Side, Chanel / Houbignant, we’ve won-the-war-and-dominated-Europe sort of way; and Andrew and Elaine in the l980s, Laurel Canyon, Calvin Klein and Armani, greed-isn’t-good-but-it-looks-good sort of way.” Over the ensuing pages we move in and out of Daniella’s past, her dreams, and her artistic visions (half-reclining terracotta women, for example, who are “neither here nor there, like me”; a mysterious cliff-top doorway with a view of ocean and sky; a landscape of rain and fire). We follow her as — aided and abetted by her dead companions — she abruptly leaves the East Coast for California, delves into her past, and finally travels to Micronesia, where she begins to uncover the sources of her lifelong disorientation. Gauguin’s Moon is a book about the interweaving of life and art, the power of dreams and images, and our sacred responsibility for one another. — Constance Solari, author of Sophie’s Fire

“This is a fascinating novel which spins an amazing web. Daniela remembers Gauguin: Be mysterious and you will be happy. Marello spins plenty of mystery, hallucination and romance. This roller-coaster of a novel is a page-turner that will keep you on your toes. Highly recommended!” — Clarence Major, author of Chicago Heat and Other Stories

“Gauguin’s Moon equates in style, invention, research and empathy with Margaret Atwood’s and Gail Godwin’s work. It has their imagination, and incisive self-examination. Young Daniella is visited by dead people: her mother, her aunt, and friends Elaine, and Andrew — ancestors all, back from the dead, and visible to Daniella and her friend Sandy. Daniella accepts their help to find out more about the apocalyptic dream that won’t leave her. Images in her paintings begin to match experiences with a hydrogen bomb explosion in the Central Pacific’s Bikini Atoll, unleashed by the U.S. Government in the 1950s on a culture and ecosystem. Until she finds their source, these dreams frustrate her instincts for love and her sense of identity. In the end, Daniella finds out how self acceptance can be obtained.” — Paul Nelson, author of Refrigerator Church

AUTHOR PROFILE: Laura Marello grew up in New York and California. She started writing early – poetry at age seven, fiction in high school. She studied poetry with Ray Carver at UC Santa Cruz, and Edward Dorn at CU Boulder; fiction with Padma Hejmadi at CU Boulder and Gil Sorrentino at Stanford. She had a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford, and Fine Arts Work Center Provincetown Fellowship. Her book of stories, The Gender of Inanimate Objects, published by Tailwinds Press NYC, was shortlisted for the Saroyan Prize. Her first novel Claiming Kin was a finalist for the Patterson Prize. Her novel about artists in Paris, The Tenants of the Hotel Biron, had a bilingual reading of it done at the Galerie Ivana Gavardie in Paris when it came out. Her chapbook of poems Balzac’s Robe was the second finalist for the New Women’s Voices Award at Finishing Line Press, where it was published. Marello’s first five books have been published since 2010.

LOCAL OUTLETS: If your local bookstore does not carry the book they can order it.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, all other online booksellers.

PRICE: $20.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I am on twitter:@LauraMarello, Instagram: LauraMarello7300, and Facebook: Laura Marello.

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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