A woman gloats over the false name she inscribes in the hotel register as she checks into the Black Swan. The appellation is ``Nelly Dean.'' Intriguingly, this is the name of the housekeeper in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights , so the reader can expect uncanny happenings and is not disappointed. The problem with ``Nelly'' is that she has no recollection of who she really is or how she got to this place, though she recounts with brilliantly convincing lucidity the events of each day of her sojourn. She feels happy at the Black Swan, yet each of her forays into the village is followed by some crime: an old woman is brutally beaten; a house is torched; a bank is robbed. Nelly seems blissfully unconcerned. Visitors arrive. One claims to be her son; a portly man tries, impotently, to make love to her. Although she recognizes no one, Nelly is haunted by a sense of deja vu (such as reading bits of her own life in a library book). Mirrors disconcert her; the elderly, puffy-faced woman who glares from inside the wardrobe door, and again from the hairdresser's mirror, must be, she feels, somebody else. Finally, she shrouds her looking glass with an old robe. A British import, this is a pleasingly eerie study in amnesiac derangement by the author of The Seven Ages. (September)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988 Release date: 08/01/1988 Genre: Nonfiction
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