Publication Date: March 5, 2015
In From Afar by Frank Scozzari, Morgan Stanfield travels from Santa Barbara, California to Saint Petersburg, Russia in pursuit of a soulmate. For a man not so lucky in love is love from afar the answer?
The author, Frank Scozzari, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Readers may scoff at the idea of a man looking for love on a Russian bride site. “Why go all the way to Russia when there are so many women here?”, detractors ask. Morgan Stanfield’s friends certainly ask the question of him. Does he tell the friend trying to set him up with her sister that he’s not attracted to the sister or does he pick a picture on a website and know that attraction will be there on his end before making that first step? Morgan certainly knows what he prefers and he goes into the endeavor with a bit of a broken heart (the result of a relationship gone awry) and a willingness to trust which doesn’t always serve him well. Morgan is of a generation that has a certain perception of Russia and its people fostered by the Cold War.
Told in Morgan’s voice, From Afar is a remarkable book in that no matter the roadblocks its protagonist hits, he maintains a positive spirit and openness that will appeal to readers who like the see the silver lining of our existence. Morgan is nobody’s fool but he goes in with expectations that he’s willing to adapt and with a insecurity as to where the path will take him next. But wherever it goes, he’s on it for the duration. While I found the character a bit shallow and too focused on the perfect eyes and stunning figure his mate should have, his ability to bounce back and keep on his path without stretching the bounds of disbelief is admirable. Early on in the work, Morgan tells us the “Ivan story.” Someone with the goal of taking advantage of Morgan took him in but Morgan uses it as a lesson of what not to do and boldly makes plans to meet the woman of his dreams. At many points in the novel, as we’re in Morgan’s head, he gives us observations that are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and pull us more into this imperfect but likable human’s life.
Scozzari’s writing style is easy and fluid. While a quick read, I read From Afar as something of a one-man show which made it not so much a surprise to discover that the author is also a screenwriter. I can picture someone like Steve Carrell sitting in front of an audience talking about his experiences as Morgan, though no doubt Morgan himself would believe a Ryan Gosling or other young heartthrob more fitting for the role. There is a keen focus on the character hand his development so that the setting and experiences could be anywhere or anything and Morgan would maintain that vital interest from the reader.
From Afar is a sometimes funny, sometimes sad but always a hopeful search for what he thinks his future might hold. It is the sort of piece I haven’t read before with an attitude as of yet unseen. I don’t wish to give the reader the impression that the setting isn’t vibrantly written and the characters, not Morgan aren’t well rounded. Early on in the novel, Morgan meets a man on a plane who could have easily been a caricature. He is directly his less experienced flying companion on the best strategies to score sex once in Russia. While Scozzari writes the man as a chauvinist to the extreme, he gives the man humanity by allowing him his own variety of love, when he meets the woman he wants to spend his life with—if not his bed for the rest of his life. What could have easily could have been a one-dimensional ploy, rounds the character and made me, as a reader, wish him and his very likely-to-be unhappy bride well?
If you’re looking for a great character study with an unpredictable path, pick up From Afar today. It’s an easy beach read that will take the reader to unfamiliar and unexpected places.
Read an excerpt and buy From Afar by Frank Scozzari on