top of page

Book Review: No. 23 Burlington Square by Jenni Keer – A Dazzlingly Original Masterwork of Storytelling Artistry

Updated: Jun 14


Book Review: No. 23 Burlington Square by Jenni Keer – A Dazzlingly Original Masterwork of Storytelling Artistry

This Ingenious Novel Exploring the Twisting Fates of Three Potential Lodgers Will Leave You Breathless



I've just experienced literary rapture unlike anything I can recall - the sublime, transcendent spell of Jenni Keer's "No. 23 Burlington Square." With dizzying narrative ambition and pure imaginative wizardry, this tome casts an irresistible magic all its own, daring its awestruck readers to ponder life's pivotal what ifs while surrendering utterly to its intricate dramatic tapestries. I'm still reeling from the narrative high-wire act Keer has accomplished here - a multigenerational saga of interlocking secrets, squandered chances, and the infinite cosmic powers hinged upon one landlady's innocuous decision on a sleepy 1920s morning.


From the stunning opening pages thrusting us into the shoes of hapless Agnes Humphries as she weighs her options on filling her latest vacant rooms, Keer lays the enthralling hook that propels her prismatic saga forward. Agnes faces a seemingly banal crossroads - will her newest lodger be her whimsical, Bright Young Thing of a niece Clara? The respectable, squeaky-clean banker Stephen? Or the ghostly, mysterious Mercy - a tremulous widow clearly fleeing unknown demons? The deliciously teasing suspense over Agnes's momentous trifle of a choice sets the chessboard for what unfurls next - no less than three discrete yet thematically interwoven novellas chronicling the cosmic impacts should each prospective tenant claim residency at the ramshackle but enchanting 23 Burlington Square.


With sumptuous brushstrokes capturing both 1920s Yorkshire and post-war London Society, Keer immerses us in the sprawling reverberations each tiny butterfly flap enacts. What commences as Clara's residency morphs into a downward spiral of scandal, hedonism amidst the Bright Young People scene, and reckoning with sins of the past. While Stephen's path leads toward a warped, Hitchcockian thriller of possessive control and domestic suspense coiled within too-perfect proprieties. And Mercy? Her timeline takes us through the most harrowing chambers of wartime survivor's guilt, political turmoil, and reconciling unspeakable wartime trauma before achieving catharsis.


But the real rapture of Keer's intricately structured narrative isn't her sumptuous recreation of a long-lost British historical era. Nor is it the juicy high society scandals and glimpses into the aftermaths of The Great War's spiraling human toll (although she renders those details with haunting authenticity that left me breathlessly immersed). No, the true treasure ensconced within Keer's rapturous contrivances lies in her unparalleled gifts for populating each parallel realm with flesh-and-bone souls so resonant they transcend fiction.


With astounding alchemy, she transforms stock archetypes like the wayward flapper girl, the upright bureaucrat, the shattered widow into stunningly nuanced, perspective-shifting portraits of the myriad streams of humanity converging upon that deceptively unassuming Burlington Square flat. Clara emerges as far more than a privileged, flighty bon vivant indulging her youth, but a young soul questing for purpose beyond the shackles of polite society's gendered imprisonment. Every narrative crumb feeds our understanding of her in prismatic new dimensions, from melancholy ruminations on motherhood's constraints to repressed yearnings for erotic liberation glimmering beneath the bob and necklaces.



Meanwhile, the supposedly virtuous Stephen sloughs off cloying archetypes of patriarchal posturing to become a shockingly layered study in internalized repression and anxieties over the falsehoods that grant social mobility. Through Stephen's chilling chapters, Keer excavates exquisite psychological suspense driving us toward disturbing revelations about how the most harmless facade can conceal a desperate, coiled cauldron of darkness lurking beneath.


And with Mercy's staggering yet ennobling sojourn through unthinkable grief and bone-shattering catastrophe, Keer summons perhaps her most breathtaking literary miracle. From the moment this bookish wisp of a woman stepped forward seeking fresh beginnings, I was transfixed by the heartrending authenticity of her tremors, haunted visions replaying horrors endured in service, and bottomless wellspring of sorrow clouding her every interaction. Yet Keer guides us through Mercy's personal hell with deft, tender grace befitting a writer operating at the peak of her powers, sprinkling each darkest of moments with stubborn flickerings of resilience that make her journey toward wholeness transcendent.


Beyond her staggeringly intricate novellas-within-the-novel, however, what truly elevates "No. 23 Burlington Square" into the highest pantheons of must-read literature is Keer's daring structural gambit and staggering tonal command. With the fearless bravura of an acrobat leaping from one precarious swing to the next, she deftly entrances us within each lodger's all-consuming realm before slicing away to witness Agnes' own parallel trajectory from unlucky spinster to matriarch keeper of memories spinning out of control. While reading each discrete strand of the multi-verse Keer mischievously unleashes, I found myself enraptured by how the tangents feed into and reverberate against the others, each granular detail and background character flourish rippling across concurrent timelines in unexpected ways.


In Clara's universe, the smallest aside or passing remark involving Agnes' elderly, estranged sister Bethany gains deeper shades of pathos when later echoed in the mirror of Mercy's sorrowful backstory. Objects take on shimmering totemic significance as they cycle from throwaway details in one character's domain to harbingers of pivotal epiphanies for their doppelgängers navigating adjacent dimensions. And by the cosmic finale where Keer's kaleidoscope reassembles into the grandest of all possible prismatic resolutions, I was reeling over her mastery of emotional sleight-of-hand and miraculously cohesive world-building threading through each ephemeral, possibility-laden turn of the page.



While many authors have bravely attempted polyphonic novels delivering interconnected visions of splintered realities, few have achieved such cohesive, heart-staggering transcendence as Keer delivers in this bewitching tome. From the first breathless gambit of Agnes laying each contoured domino in place to the final resounding claps of existential catharsis where every character's individual awakening coalesces into the overarching Big Picture, I was entirely entranced. This is a novel not just exploring fate, free will, and the cosmic caprice governing our life paths - it positively embodies those eternal inquiries into chance and choice in its very essence. And the prismatic clarity achieving resonance by journey's end feels nothing short of rapturous.


Simply put, Keer's "No. 23 Burlington Square" is the sort of novel that will utterly rekindle your faith in literature's power to transport, provoke, and awaken undiscovered dimensions of your very soul. I was left breathless and trembling by her staggering imagination, yes, but even moreso by the emotional truth bombs detonating from every sumptuously rendered perspective. This book puts us in Clara's high heels and Mercy's earthly purgatory and Stephen's condition of curdled denial with equal empathy and insight, beckoning us to mine the cosmic revelations glimmering beneath each character's seemingly disparate manias and epiphanies.


In that regard alone, this book achieves a transcendent artistic resonance worthy of the highest praises. By splintering fractured perspectives into a multiversal embrace of every single possibility swirling around those tantalizing rooms for rent, Keer creates a masterwork encapsulating the (sur)realities every life paradoxically contains simultaneously even if only a single fate can be manifested. Should Mercy's saga of reckoning and deliverance against shattering grief be yours, Keer reminds us that echoes of Clara's freewheeling liberation and Stephen's coiled horrors endure perpetually in our psyche's unplumbed depths. In words of timeless, incandescent power, she imparts that whichever path we walk, ripple effects of every crossroads not taken will forever trail alongside us.


So if you want a novel that doesn't just entertain, provoke, and awe in the moment, but also lingers for eons beyond its last page - awakening you to eternity's infinite possibilities and human resilience's most triumphant potentialities in one beryl swoop - then consider "No. 23 Burlington Square" among the year's most essential literary revelations. This breath-of-fresh-air saga has jolted my soul to new meditations on free will, mortality, forgiveness, and the inextricable bonds preserving our most cherished relationships, no matter which cosmic trajectories we may hurtle down. Keer has crafted a postmodern masterpiece costumed in historical fashions, a parable for our divided times, and a timeless anthem to all that gives our temporal journeys resounding purpose.



By the final shattering harmonic convergence of possibility-strands, not only did I wish to linger forever in her richly humane character perspectives, but I wished fervently to carry such a grand, compassionate, ecstatic vision for life itself outward into my every encounter. For Keer has forged no less than a new scripture for the near-mystic powers of imagination, storytelling, and radical empathy to crystallize our essence and experience healing on a cosmic scale. This is a book beyond words - an elevation into pure literary rapture and a bittersweet yet heartsweeping reminder why art itself endures as long as singular talents like Keer's grace our world with unforgettable, perspective-shifting masterworks. I can pay no higher praise than to desperately implore you all to answer this novel's tantalizing invitation inside as I did, with all the curiosity and hunger for insight into our boundless possibilities that only fiction's most transcendent conjurors can provide.


Enjoyed what you've read? Explore it on Amazon!



Enjoying this review? If you love exploring love stories, check out That Love Podcast! We bring you original, bite-sized audio rom-coms. Discover your next favorite here:





Comments


bottom of page