The Jade Cabinet

Rikki Ducornet, Author Dalkey Archive Press $19.95 (158p) ISBN 978-1-56478-021-8
This novel, representing Air, is a numinous finale to Ducornet's Tetralogy of Elements, which also includes The Stain (Earth), Entering Fire (Fire) and The Fountains of Neptune (Water). Born into an eccentric household in Victorian Oxford, Etheria is beautiful, imaginative and, because of her father's attempts to discover the Edenic Original Speech by keeping his firstborn innocent of language, mute. Her sister, Memory, narrates the story as Etheria is courted by, and then marries, a philistine manufacturer with the Dickensian moniker of Radulph Tubbs. Tubbs's desire to possess his wife leads him to cruelty, Etheria's eventual ``vanishment'' and his increasing sense of humiliation and regret. Added to this boy-meets-girl/boy-loses-girl plot is a cast of bizarre extras: a vicious, anorexic circus performer, an architect who has gone mad pondering pyramids, a magician and butler, Lewis Carroll, and one million ibis mummies, the ingredients for a failed experiment in a new powdered soup--``Though the broth had the colour of bouillon, it tasted like boiled pavement.'' All told, this is a lilting but nonetheless propulsive story of magic, imagination, language, memory and other elements illusory, elusive and essential. ( Mar. )
Reviewed on: 02/01/1993
Release date: 02/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-1-56478-031-7
Paperback - 158 pages - 978-1-56478-173-4
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