Trade Paperback · 392 Pages
$13.95 U.S. · $16.50 CAN
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“A writer of stunning quality, a novelist of irony and compassion.”—Daily Telegraph
Paris in the 1890s. Adam Gould, whose Anglo-Irish father has disowned him, works in a lunatic asylum run by the celebrated Dr. Blanche, some of whose patients once starred in France’s social firmament and still, when sane, sit at table with distinguished guests.
One such patient is Guy de Maupassant. Another is Belcastel, who has taken the blame for a monarchist plot against the Third Republic and then feigned insanity.
Madness and uncertain identity drive Adam’s story, fuelled by Maupassant’s sparkling insights on the matter. Gould falls in love with a married connection of Belcastel’s. And things are made no simpler on his return home, when he becomes entangled with a cousin who looks hauntingly like his dead mother.
By turns dark, witty, and illuminating, this is a gripping tale by an acknowledged master of the historical novel.
Maupassant, a red-eyed, stubbly-bearded, wasted-looking man, was standing in front of a mirror examining a scar on his neck. He did not turn when Adam came in, but addressed their joint images in the mirror.
‘Sometimes there’s no reflection. Have you ever looked in a mirror and seen no one? Just emptiness. Silvery. Like a pond.’
Julia O’Faolain was born in London in 1932. She has published many books to great acclaim, and her novel No Country for Young Men was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 1980. She lives in London.
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