Memory and Desire

Lisa Appignanesi, Author
Lisa Appignanesi, Author Dutton Books $20 (576p) ISBN 978-0-525-93403-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 640 pages - 978-0-451-17553-3
Paperback - 642 pages - 978-0-00-733527-5
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Appignanesi's first foray into fiction (her nonfiction books on the arts have been published in Europe) is an entertaining multigenerational saga. The time span ('30s-'80s), venues (Poland, Paris, Rome, New York) and cast of characters (pre- and post-WW II aristocracy and intelligentsia and their progeny) are familiar, and the requisite formula of drama, passion, sex and details of opulent lifestyles will please devotees of romance novels. The focal point of the story is talented, perplexing and erotic Sylvie Kowalska Jardine, whose haunting secrets impair and ultimately damage her personal and familial relationships, particularly that with daughter Katherine, who leaves home at 13 to escape her mother's violent behavior. Among the well-crafted characters are Thomas Sachs, a wealthy, hedonistic publishing entrepreneur who becomes the young Katherine's special mentor; Princess Mathilde, who shares many secrets with Sylvie's psychoanalyst husband; and dashing Italian film director Alexei Gismondi, whose appearance many years after Sylvie's untimely suicide begins the series of flashbacks that propel the plot. The author's wide-ranging knowledge of art, literature and history enriches the novel, making it an enjoyable if not particularly memorable read. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (Feb.)
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