The Storm

Margriet de Moor, Author, Carol Brown Janeway, Translator , trans. from the Dutch by Carol Brown Janeway. Knopf $24.95 (257p) ISBN 978-0-307-26494-7

A laborious translation doesn’t help to recommend this otherwise gripping story of dueling Dutch sisters who become separated by a monstrous meteorological anomaly. Lidy takes her sister Armanda’s place on a group trip that ends with a final stand against the legendary New Year’s storm of 1953 that swallowed a large chunk of Holland, killing nearly 2,000. Lidy’s efforts to stay alive span the better part of this saga, and that’s a good thing: de Moor is at her strongest describing the raging elements and Lidy’s traveling partners’ final hours in a farmhouse attic; the arresting details suck the reader into the maelstrom as inexorably as any of the protagonists. While it’s difficult to tell whether the prose’s lack of fluidness is simply de Moor’s style or an aspect of the translation (“Cathrien Padmos began to breathe heavily for the third time in her married life, or to put it more precisely, the cervix was in its last stages of dilation”), her methodical writing is well suited to the story’s technical aspects, of which there are many. Despite some rocky moments—events are set in motion by “a concatenation of different circumstances”—de Moor (The Kreutzer Sonata ) pulls off an involving saga of death foretold. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 11/09/2009
Release date: 03/01/2010
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