The Butterfly Chair

Marion Quednau, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (202p) ISBN 978-0-312-02552-6
Winner of a Canadian first novel award, this account of a young woman's coming to terms with a legacy of murder and suicide is marked by both powerful characterization and a considerable quotient of tedium. Else Rainer's parents came to Toronto from Germany in 1952. While her mother seemed able to adjust, her father's demands on himself, others and life in general made him restless and dissatisfied. Early on, readers learn that Else's father, a charming, intense architect, continually abused her mother, that after many years her mother gathered the courage to take her children and leave and that finally the father caught up with his wife, shot her on a country road and then turned the gun on himself, an event witnessed by teenaged Else. The rest of the novel concerns Else's uncovering of the story behind that afternoon as she struggles not to deny her love for both parentseven in their roles as victim and killerand to hold on to her capacity to love others. Unsentimental and unflinching, this is a tale of courage and promise, its sometimes murky development and ambiguous resolution notwithstanding. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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