After Colette

Joan Lingard, Author Sinclair-Stevenson, $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-85619-328-3
Based on the postmodern premise that life is a series of fictional constructs, this clever, oddly charismatic novel by Lingard (The Women's House) is a study in our inability ever to know another person completely. After 60-ish, bohemian Amy Balfour suddenly vanishes, her bourgeois cousin tries to assemble the fragmentary facts of her life in an attempt to solve the mystery of her disappearance. Using letters, journal entries and reconstructed dialogue and jumping back and forth between multiple time frames from 1873 to the 1990s, the unnamed narrator focuses on Amy's down-and-out days in Paris and her numerous affairs with unavailable men, but returns most often to her successful career playing the writer Colette (to whom Amy bears a remarkable resemblance) on stage. A special identification betwen the narrator and Amy emerges through the telling of the tale, as if the free-spirited, artistic Amy is the alter ego of the more settled narrator, a married mother of four. Through the mixture of factual details of Colette's life and the fictional events of Amy's life, ``reality'' itself-and the storyteller's relationship to it-becomes itself part of the plot. This intelligent, warm novel affirms the importance but also the absurdity of human connection in a world that proceeds sometimes whimiscally, sometimes poignantly, through accident. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1995
Release date: 03/01/1995
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