We Are Eternal

Pierette Fleutiaux, Author, Pierrette Fleutiaux, Author, Jeremy Leggett, Translator Little Brown and Company $24.95 (565p) ISBN 978-0-316-28617-6
This dense gothic novel, a bestseller in France and winner of the Femina prize, requires patience as its narrator, Estelle Helleur, takes a winding journey through her tortured life, most of which has been centered around her brother, Dan, and their love affair. Laden with existential observations, the narrative begins with the siblings' early codependence and incipient romance; Fleutiaux casts the children's incest as a natural response to an upbringing filled with terror and desolation. The haunted Helleurs, however, often suggest a French Addams family-the mother is a birdlike dancer suffering from nightmares; the father, a romantic attorney, is a depressed eccentric; Tiresia, the siblings' silent caretaker and a former concert pianist, holds the key to the children's dysfunctionality. Fragmented by pieces of past and present and including letters to the director of Estelle's convent, the story line zigzags from the French countryside to New York, Paris and the convent. The translation reads unevenly, but the most affecting passages, usually the simplest, have a lyrical beauty that will reward the dogged reader. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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