In Betsy Franco’s Naked, two narratives are interwoven – the story of a 19-year old Jesse and the accidental awakening of the reincarnated spirit of Camille Claudel, French sculptor and August Rodin’s muse and mistress in the late 1800s. Camille plays it mysterious, keeping her identity secret while she explores the strange world of the 21st century and her relationship with Jesse. Meanwhile, Jesse navigates his own struggles with family, school and love.
While the premise is riveting, the execution left a lot to be desired. Camille’s rich history was fascinating, but her reactions to the modern world seemed unrealistically calm. Many characters were flat and uninteresting. Franco’s story lacked detail, and at times it feels like reading a screenplay with some slightly long stage directions. Jesse in particular was overly intelligent for a high school kid with no explanation to the source of his college-level smarts. The point of view switched often between characters, which was unnerving at best and disruptive to the story at worst. Still, the plot was not entirely uninteresting, and the best moments of the story came from the struggles of a woman living in a garden full of memories of a past life.
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