From the bestselling author of The Birth of Venus comes this truly brilliant and compelling contemporary psychological thriller about a woman who, inexplicably, takes a journey and doesn't return.
Sarah Dunant is the author of the critically acclaimed THE BIRTH OF VENUS. Before turning to historical novels, she wrote seven crime novels for which she won two Silver Daggers. She was editor of War of the Words (Vir. 1994) and co-editor of The Age of A
In this sixth novel by Golden Dagger nominee Dunant (Fatlands), Anna Franklin, a London journalist and single mother, flies to Florence for a brief vacation and fails to return as scheduled. Dunant then tells three stories, one of which takes place at Anna's home in London and two that present alternate explanations for her disappearance. Both of Anna's rather improbable adventures involve mysterious men, one a secret lover and the other a psychopath. Switching back and forth between the two tales dissipates much of the tension that either plot line might have otherwise sustained. Anna is strangely acquiescent, creating a creepy sense that she is, in part, a collaborator in her own victimization. The most compelling chapters are those narrated by Anna's friend Estella, a witty, commitment-phobic corporate attorney who flies in from Amsterdam to care for Anna's six-year-old daughter, Lily. Recommended only for public libraries collecting heavily in suspense fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/00.]ÄJane la Plante, Minot State Univ. Lib., ND Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
'... cool, highly sexual; creates a dazzling surface of translucence' - OBSERVER; 'Keeps fear on the line right down to the very last paragraph - balanced, of course, on a final heart-stopping moment via an unco-operative telephone' - TIMES; 'A tantalising novel...remarkable in its stealthy creation of an atmosphere of unease, terror & mystery' - SPECTATOR; 'Skilful suspense, great sense of place' - MAIL ON SUNDAY
What happened to Anna Franklin? That's the question posed in Dunant's latest novel, detailing five days in the life of those close to an English journalist who heads off on a short holiday and doesn't return when she is expected. Waiting anxiously at home are Anna's six-year-old daughter, Lily; Lily's part-time surrogate father, Paul; and Estella, Anna's best friend and Lily's godmother, who has flown in from Amsterdam. Caught in a whirlwind of uncertainty, Anna's makeshift family lives from moment to moment, waiting for the phone to ring, the door to openDhoping beyond hope for a simple explanation of Anna's absence. Two parallel "what if" stories run the course of the novel, tangling the reader in a web of suspense and confusion. Is Anna depressed by Lily's growing independence and feeling a need to reconnect with the woman she used to be before she became a mother? Or is she the victim of a tragic obsession gone awry, kidnapped by a psychopath with no feelings of remorse? While either story could accurately explain Anna's disappearance, each version shows a different side of the missing woman and the motivations behind her sudden trip. The suspense is good enough to keep the pages turning and the secondary characters' reactions lend credibility to the plot line; however, the ambiguous conclusion reads more like a cop-out than a subtle send-off. Most interesting is the convincing portrayal of Anna's alternative family and their quietly unconventional 21st-century living arrangements. Though she is known as a writer of sophisticated thrillers (Transgressions; Under My Skin), Dunant here leans gracefully toward straight literary fiction. Agent, Claire Alexander at Aitken & Stone. (Feb. 23) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.