Julia Leigh, Author . Penguin $13 (120p) ISBN 978-0-14-311350-8

Leigh follows her internationally acclaimed The Hunter with a haunting family drama tightly packed into a tense novella. Olivia, referred to primarily (and somewhat affectedly) as “the woman,” has fled her abusive husband with her two sharp-tongued young children. She seeks refuge at her mother’s chateau in France, which she left on bad terms to get married 12 years earlier. Soon after Olivia’s unexpected arrival, her brother shows up with his wife, Sophie, and the body of their stillborn child. Although the plot feels a bit slight, there is great emotional weight and disturbing imagery, as Sophie wanders aimlessly, still wearing her hospital ID bracelet and carrying her lifeless daughter in her arms as if the baby were a doll. The chateau is an ideal gothic setting for the morbid events that occur over the course of several days; indeed, there is only one scene that takes place off the chateau’s grounds, infusing the novel with an unsettling atmosphere of claustrophobia. Death and impending death reign, but Leigh also paints a subtle portrait of a broken family trying to piece itself back together. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2008
Release date: 11/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 120 pages - 978-0-571-23999-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 128 pages - 978-1-4406-4140-4
Open Ebook - 128 pages - 978-1-4406-4139-8
Open Ebook - 978-1-4406-4143-5
Open Ebook - 978-1-101-39351-2
Ebook - 128 pages - 978-0-571-31102-6
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