New Values

Mark Oldham, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $23.95 (353p) ISBN 978-0-340-41573-3
``There's a malaise in this place, I can feel it.'' With this understatement a fervid nun, one of the many outlandish characters in this first novel, points to the dark edifice dominating Slackhall, a village in the north of England. To that moldering mansion comes Dagmar to nurse Mrs. Booth, bedridden doyenne, and to keep an eye on pubescent William Booth, the orphan grandson being readied for public school. But Dagmar, from Germany, has her own agenda. The year is 1938 and the name of Hitler is just a whisper in Slackhall until Dagmar, with her mission ``to become torch-bearer for the Reich,'' changes the landscape. A host of grotesques swirl in Slackhall: an obese schoolgirl given to visions; the hysteric nun; a lascivious cleric; a witchlike, fortune-telling nanny whose maledictions come true. This melodramatic blend of fantasy and horror has historical and political resonance, but is only intermittently effective as fiction. Oldham is a London barrister. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next