Synopses & Reviews
Janet grew up with her father; her mother, she was always told, died when she was three. But now she discovers she has inherited a house from her mother--who, she learns, died only recently. In a state of shock she travels north with the key, and finds an old stone cottage at the sea's edge. Tom was raised by his mother, traveling from one place to another, his only stability the stories she told him--stories of shape-shifters, danger, impossible love. Now he hides away in an old stone cottage at the sea's edge, waiting for the woman he knows will come. When Janet arrives, she is surprised to find Tom and to find herself mysteriously drawn to him. In Erica Wagner's world of truth and terror, lives and stories become so interwoven that, in the end, all distinctions are lost. Her hypnotic prose is charged with an intensity that will leave the reader breathless.
"The primal fear of maternal abandonment is twisted into this insistently dark, atmospheric novel by London Times literary editor Wagner, author of a story collection (Gravity) and nonfiction book on Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath (Ariel's Gift). Janet Ward, in a settled long-term relationship but suffering from dreamlike seizures, is shocked to suddenly inherit a house from her mother whom she had always believed died when she was three. Upon her arrival at the small seaside stone cottage in the English north, Janet discovers she is not alone: a man named Tom has been given a key of his own. A torrid spell of stories and dreams from the past (an elusive mother, seal-women and demon lovers, journeys across the sea) follows, along with the present reality of Tom and Janet together in the cottage, trying to figure out who they are to one another and why their meeting feels like destiny. Much of the book is a drawn-out, portentous standoff between the two, and readers won't be surprised at their mutual attraction or the truth of their connection. The prose is overblown and repetitive, and layers of symbolism further weigh the story down, but Wagner's lyrical vision of Janet is palpable through the haze." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this suspenseful debut novel about identity, the world of truth and terror, lives and stories become so interwoven that, in the end, all distinctions are lost. Wagner's hypnotic prose is charged with an intensity that leaves the reader breathless.
A suspenseful debut novel about identity, reminiscent of the mythical lyricism of Margaret Atwood and the taut eroticism of Josephine Hart.
About the Author
Erica Wagner is the author of Gravity, a book of stories, and Ariel's Gift. She was born in New York and lives in London, where she is literary editor of The Times.