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Los Angeles Times: "Takes on the feel of Marguerite Duras' powerful little book, 'The Lover' -- pure passion in an enclosed (emotional and physical) space."

Date: Dec 26 2010

Discoveries

by Susan Salter Reynolds


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"She wept almost every day in the month before the marriage." Imagine this woman. At 30, no longer young, she's begging her father not to marry her off to the respectable widower. The place is Sardinia, 1943 — so many houses already bombed, the dark pine trees by the ocean, the rocky coast. And so she marries and moves into his house, "where there is light from the south and from the sea, which invades fiercely until sunset, and makes everything sparkle." Milena Agus' novel of a granddaughter telling her grandmother's story occurs in that sparkle of light, in the eyes of someone left behind, and is a cautionary tale. Unable to have children with her husband, the grandmother went to a spa, where she met a wounded soldier and fell in love. The novel takes on the feel of Marguerite Duras' powerful little book, "The Lover" — pure passion in an enclosed (emotional and physical) space. She becomes pregnant, returns to her widower, has a son and longs for the veteran. This longing takes shape: It lingers in the house after her death; it lives on in the notebooks, poems and letters saved. It is inherited by her granddaughter, who tells this story. It does not dilute with time and death. It gets stronger. After all, fiction plays by different rules.

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