Waltzing in the Attic

P. B. Parris, Author Nan A. Talese $18.95 (225p) ISBN 978-0-385-41272-8
The worst of human nature shapes the events in this monotonous and depressing story of a family's ruin. Hannah Meier tells of her family's life on their farm outside Mt. Olivet, Neb., from 1927 to 1987, detailing her submission to her father's obsessions, her mother's death and later the prescribed routine of the family's isolation and perversion of religious strictures to the service of patriarchal power. Hannah's Vater, with his German accent, paranoia and religious fanaticism, keeps his family hemmed in on the farm and totally insulated from the benefits of 20th-century technology. Hannah's sister Greta is crippled when she tries to escape; Hannah herself is trapped more completely when she bears a son by her brother Karl. The only ray of hope in Hannah's life is a stock-character town boy who marries another but miraculously preserves love for Hannah and fathers her second child years later. This unrealistic, idealized relationship doesn't save Hannah or the novel from deadening boredom; as Karl becomes a second Vater, Hannah's ineffectual rebellions mean more to her but achieve nothing. Vater as the source of evil is never explained; nor is the twisted psychology of the other characters. Rather than celebrating Hannah's small victories, the reader is left wondering the point of it all. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1990
Release date: 07/01/1990
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