cover image Woman Beware Woman and Wild Nights

Woman Beware Woman and Wild Nights

Emma Tennant, Emma Tenant. Faber & Faber, $9.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-571-14183-8

Tennant (Two Women of London) creates a mystical sense of impending doom in both these novellas. But her dense imagery has only the faintest grasp on reality-and ultimately it becomes a veritable thicket blocking the light of comprehension. In Woman Beware Woman Minnie has returned to Cliff Hold, on the wild Irish seacoast, following the death of its owner, Hugo Pierce, who may or may not have been murdered. Minnie continually flashes back to her childhood; and a medieval tapestry hanging on a wall becomes a metaphysical window into her present. At the same time, she discovers the oppressive present with Pierce's widow, with an old friend who married the Pierces's younger son and with the absent older son, to whom Minnie had been betrothed years before. Trivial events resound with significance to Minnie, and the challenge is to decide if she is experiencing psychotic episodes or if she is truly a guide into a reality unique to Cliff Hold. In Wild Nights, Tennant allows fantasy free reign, as the narrator's Aunt Zita comes to visit, bringing her witchlike powers fueled by winter and the north wind. When spring blooms, the scene shifts to Uncle Rainbows' home in the south, where an equally mystical and evocative reality governs. (Oct.)