Camera Obscura, by Rosanne Dingli has a complexity that is elusive and difficult to describe. But this mirrors, imperfectly, as does a camera obscura – the subtleties , the distractions of light and shadow that make each individual’s experiences unique – and uniquely flawed.
While Camera Obscura is a mystery of the first order, in the accepted understanding of that genre – even more, it is a revelation of the human spirit, the human condition. No two individuals ever understand the same scene or event in the same way. Our understanding of our world, our roles and our relationships are obscured by our wishes, defined by our unwillingness to see what is in front of our noses, for to see clearly might shatter possibilities we would rather not see evaporate. We often prefer blindness. What we refuse to see allows hope for what we suspect is impossible. And so our understandings are uniquely subjective. Truth is obscured by the veils we place in front of our own eyes, only half aware that we do so.
Bart is caught in a mystery that he is loath to unravel, yet needs to understand, held in thrall by a woman he loves but cannot know. Abandoned at six years of age by his father he harbours uncertainties that cloud his willingness to examine his life with open eyes. Minnie draws him like a moth to flame, leaving him unable, unwilling to question his perceptions or to discover the truth. Like us he prefers to hope rather than to know. And we travel with him as he follows Minnie from Australia, to France and Malta. Somehow she is involved in art theft and intrigue. But what is the danger, how can he tell if she is victim or willing participant? The clues are there. But what do they mean? Is what he wants to believe true or is she purposely deceiving him, using him? Just as Bart cannot decide until the last pages, just so does the reader continue to wonder until the end. And we understand. We have been there. We want those same things Bart does yet fear them as well. And that is what makes this book so special. The events are pure fiction but the emotional journey is very real.