Beauty at any cost: a review of The Gallery of Lost Species by Nina Berkhout

Poet Nina Berkhout seeks to explore the nuances of family, beauty, and expectation in her debut novel The Gallery of Lost Species.

Lost Species

“The fixation was with the search for the exemplary paperweight or the valuable Coney Island postcard. While Constance and Viv were off at dance class or stage coaching or vocals, these quests kept him going. My father always brought me along. He said I was endowed with special artifact-finding powers, when all I did was follow him around without discovering anything extraordinary.

– The Gallery of Lost Species, Nina Berkhout

I’m always drawn to tales of difficult families. These multilayered relationships can encompass so much love, pain, and betrayal. Poet Nina Berkhout seeks to explore the nuances of family, beauty, and expectation in her debut novel The Gallery of Lost Species. Constance Walker, a failed actress from France, and her artist/custodian/collector husband Henry struggle to raise their two daughters in the face of their own disappointments. As youngest child Edith grows up, she discovers that love may not be any more real than unicorns, no matter how hard she tries to find either. Using the motif of the unicorn and the quest of cryptozoology to frame a story of addiction, failed dreams, and tested familial bonds, Berkhout has rich material to work with.

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