Three Daughters

Anna Mitgutsch, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $15.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-15-175298-0
Set in Austria, this novel is the relentlessly bleak tale of three generations of child abuse. Told from the point of view of Vera, who was beaten frequently by her mother Marie, told to be ""grateful'' and kept trapped between her feuding parents, it examines the seemingly unbreakable cycle of abuse and masochism. Integrated into the text of Vera's memories isthe narrative of Marie's own brutalized childhood, as told to Vera: growing up on a farm in a large family during World War II, Marie too was beaten by her parents, forced to do backbreaking labor and driven into a loveless marriage. Vera relates her past in obsessive detail in an attempt to understand her own daughter's unhappiness. She vowed never to lay a hand on her, to love rather than torture her child, only to realize that she has damaged her through her inability to experience love or happiness. Though completely believable and psychologically acute, Three Daughters closes in on itself and is claustrophobically, unnecessarily repetitive. (April 10)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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