Juan knows little about his widowed father Ranz, a man with a troubled past. He does know, however, that before marrying Juan's mother, Ranz was married to her elder sister, who had committed suicide. The unspoken dialogue between father and son soon becomes a spelling out of the horrifying truth once Juan marries Luisa, who turns discreet confessor to the burdened old man. What gradually emerges into the cold light of day is a repetition of scenes already witnessed by Juan in the course of his travels: a married man blackmailed by his mistress in a Havana hotel, a woman in New York pursuing a sequence of shabby lovers through the lonely-hearts columns. Produced with remarkable skill and delicacy, this is a startling picture of two generations, two marriages, and the secret commerce between spouses that rests on the gossamer-thin threads of an unspoken accord.
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Javier Marías is the author of several award-winning novels, including All Souls, Dark Back of Time, and Tomorrow in the Battle Think On Me.From Kirkus Reviews:
A harrowing drama of family secrets and their deepening resonance throughout several involved lives, by an accomplished European author whose All Souls (not reviewed) appeared in English translation in 1993. Marias's novel (winner of the Spanish Critics' Award) begins with its narrator Juan's imagined reconstruction of the suicide of his father's first wife, his mother's sister, shortly following their honeymoon. Juan and his new wife, Luisa, are both translators and interpreters who labor to facilitate communication among ``delegates and representatives'' at various multilingual international congresses. They're also both perpetrators and victims of miscommunication within their own relationship and as members of Juan's continually traumatized family. The guilt borne by his father Ranz, a menacing, almost satanic figure whose experience of marriage and widowhood eludes his son's full understanding, casts troubling shadows over all those close to him- -and finds mocking parallels in Juan's friendship with a crippled woman victimized by her recalcitrant lover and in his chance observation of an adulterous couple who may or may not be plotting murder. These perplexities are rendered in an unusual style that blends Jamesian introspection and qualification with headlong melodrama and rapid nonstop sentences. Marias's title and epigraph allude openly to Macbeth's murder of Duncan, and its sinister burden of simultaneous cumulative revelation and deepening mystery powerfully expresses its stated sense that ``nothing that happens happens . . . and the weak wheel of the world is pushed along by forgetful beings who hear and see and know what is not said, never happens, is unknowable and unverifiable.'' The impression of characters caught in the toils of their own self-conscious self- exploration is reminiscent of Sartre's No Exit. The novel circles repeatedly, with an unflinching concentrated gaze, on its people's awkward spasmodic efforts to bridge the gaps that frustrate their need for mutuality and union. The flawed, truncated nature of all human contact and efforts to reach it has rarely been given such remorseless stress. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Random House UK, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099448521
Book Description Random House UK, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110099448521
Book Description Random House UK, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0099448521