Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Perlman's Ordeal

An enthralling novel about spiritualism, the symphony, and the lost city of Atlantis.
London, 1906. Dr. August Perlman-music lover, opium addict, and pioneer of "clinical suggestion"-is on his way to the symphony when a teenage girl is brought to his office. Sylvie Blum is catatonic, unwashed, and dehydrated. It seems that another girl's personality is living inside her.
Perlman goes to the symphony anyway, and meets the charismatic spiritualist Madame Helena Barrett, who soon gets young Sylvie to talk. Her story bears astonishing resemblances to the myth of Atlantis. The girl within the girl says she once lived there.
The doctor wants to suppress her story; the spiritualist is desperate to hear it told. And so they battle for the soul of the girl, both in London and in the world of wonders that is the imagination. Their conflict is overshadowed by the ghost of Madame's late brother, a composer whose life and work are brilliantly imagined by the author.
Brooks Hansen is the author of The Chess Garden (1995) and Caesar's Antlers (1997), a novel for young adults. Together with Nick Davis he wrote the novel Boone (1990). He lives in New York City.
What Nichol Think.
This book is very strange. It's one of those books that starts off so slow that you just want to put it down and never pick it up again. But it becomes more interesting as it progresses. Yet, there are parts that never make sense. If you read this book, I hope you speak French, because there is at least one conversation (if my memory serves me right) that is entirely in French.

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