Pirate Jenny

April Bernard, Author
April Bernard, Author W. W. Norton & Company $18.95 (239p) ISBN 978-0-393-02821-8
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
Though named for popular singer Connie Francis, the teenage heroine of this accomplished, highly imaginative picaresque novel models herself on Lotte Lenya and calls herself Jenny after the heroine of The Three Penny Opera. Intent on escape from her small New England town, transported by the sounds of Brecht and Weill, she makes her way to New York and arrives there transformed into Jenny Freuhoffer, complete with a Berlin circa-1920s look and a thick German accent. She gets a job as a hotel chambermaid and then lucks into a position as nanny in an aristocratic White Russian household. She insinuates herself into this exotic world and all that it offers, improving her position by judicious use of sex, drugs, thievery and dishonesty. Despite some loose ends and pacing irregularities, poet Bernard's ( Blackbird Bye Bye ) bold and original prose gives this novel an arresting distinction. Reminiscent of The Book of Phoebe in some of its wilder moments, though far darker, the novel captures the chilling and implacable logic of a sociopath achieving her goals. To Bernard's credit, readers will be fascinated and appalled but not repelled by the machinations of Jenny as she moves ruthlessly through this perverse and offbeat tale. (June)This pleases me to no end! elizabeth
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