Taking of Agnes

Jennifer Potter, Author Mercury House $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-916515-26-3
Abiding discomfort unsettles the reader as, bathed in the heady scent and floral breezes of Martinique, the skinny finger of cold intrudesa chill embodied in the heart of stately Alicia de Sainte Croix. Alicia's niece Agnes has come to take her back to Paris and enraptures everyone but the aunt herself. Alicia refuses to leave the relic-filled home of her husband Andre and his three sisters, all long dead and grouped in a family portrait from which she is excluded and which features Andre's hand on the shoulder of Angeline. This is the sister whom Agnes unreasonably resembles, reviving the natives' suspicion that she and her half-breed child never died and reviving as well another, darker suspicion in the mind of Alicia. Since from the earliest pages we know that Agnes has been ""taken,'' tension builds through letters, diaries and first-person narration, which hint at Alicia's jealousy of Agnes and her deliberate passivity at the moment of the girl's abduction and which slowly become more bloodcurdling than the rape or murder they imply. In the course of the narrative, the conflicting forces on the islandof revolution and elitism, voodoo magic and proper Catholicismplay in counterpoint to the central plot, bringing forth a subcast of fiercely individual, sensitively articulated people. But it is the poisonous imposition of sunny exterior on inner blackness that makes this brilliant novel by the author of Flight to Berlin hover disturbingly above the page. (September 21)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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