Punishments

Francis Henry King, Author Hamish Hamilton $0 (198p) ISBN 978-0-241-12725-4
British author and poet King sets this strangely unsettling story in a bleak German college town during 1948. Here Michael Gregg finds a home--as do his fellow English students--as a guest of local German undergraduates. Jurgen Koesten, who escorts the Brits to their domiciles, fascinates Michael. A symbol of ``pure Aryan blood,'' Jurgen is as handsome, virile and blond as a poster boy for Hitler Youth. He seduces virginal Michael in the weeks that follow. The novel focuses on this relationship while also describing the fostering of Anglo-German fellowship among the other young people and their hosts. Plot is absorbing and characters are skillfully individuated. In the end, though, King leaves the reader dissatisfied. Why is the purpose of the visit never explained? Why is Michael, at age 50, long married and settled back home, still haunted by memories of Jurgen's betrayal? An effective, but ultimately frustratingly enigmatic work. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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