cover image Birthright


Charles Lambert. Gallic, $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-913547-28-8

At the start of this intriguing psychological thriller from Lambert (The Bone Flower), Liz is cleaning up after dinner when her lover, Aldo, alerts her to an image on a TV program about missing people featuring an elderly Italian woman, who’s displaying a photo of a child that Aldo insists looks exactly like Liz would have at that age. While Liz dismisses his claim, she secretly watches a recording of the show, musing to herself that the mother featured on it is lying about the circumstances of her daughter’s disappearance. Meanwhile, the focus shifts to Fiona, who at 16 first became aware of the possibility that she had a secret physical twin out in the world when she learned about a girl named Maddy, who may or may not be her relative. Fiona becomes a language teacher in Rome in the 1980s and continues her quest for her doppelgänger. Other sections present Maddy’s story from her perspective, before the question of whether any of these three women are blood relations is resolved. Lambert makes the mysteries complement the deeper questions of how self-identity depends on relationships with others. This is a thoughtful look at the impact obsessive quests for connection can have on the psyche. (Jan.)