Margriet De Moor, Author, Margriet de Moor, Author , trans. from the Dutch by Paul Vincent. Overlook $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-58567-137-3

Vincent's lucid translation of Dutch writer de Moor's (The Virtuoso) latest novel brings to life a stunning literary tale of passion and deception revolving around the enigmatic Magda Rezková, a perplexing figure who makes an extraordinary impression on the people around her. A blend of first, third and—surprisingly—second person voices effortlessly switch between past and present in the presentation of her story. Among the narrators are Erik, a prominent eye surgeon who was Magda's secret lover; her unfaithful husband, Robert, a troubled, frustrated artist turned businessman and Erik's childhood friend; Erik's wife, Nellie, who escapes the burden of raising a retarded son by managing an expensive gift shop; Erik and Nellie's son, Gaby, an idiot savant entranced with astronomy; and Magda herself, a lively, restless soul yearning for escape from horrible childhood memories. A key plot point is Magda's brazen return from a two-year absence from her husband, with no explanations or obvious remorse. As de Moor probes the reasons for Magda's seemingly capricious disappearance, she gradually reveals Magda's difficult past, the WWII experience that permanently marred her self-image, an emptiness she deliberately hides under a relentless joie de vie. In indelibly detailed scenes—an infant's poignant burial at sea; the shock of the sudden Gestapo presence in the young Czech-born Magda's home, her irresistibly romantic meeting with Robert in Quebec, their return to Europe and a farmhouse in the Cévennes, the desolation of multiple miscarriages—de Moor brilliantly accounts for Magda's disappearance, conveys her brief moment of epiphany and builds tension toward her tragic destiny. The novel won the Ako Prize in the Netherlands and was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. (July 15)

Reviewed on: 06/25/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 218 pages - 978-1-58567-396-4
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