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Patrick Besson «DARA» - Kirkus Review

  • National Book Critics Circle


A French best seller and winner of the French Academy prize for 1985, the 30-year-old Besson's ninth novel is the "portrait of a lady." (Kirkus Reviews, Sept. 15th, 1987)
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Kirkus Reviews
Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1987
Publisher: Watts
A best seller in France, and winner of the prestigious French Academy's
prize for 1985, the 30-year-old Wunderkind's ninth novel is a classic
""portrait of a lady."" Like the slender novel she inhabits, there is more to
Data than meets the eye. Is she, as her Yugoslavian ÉmigrÉ
compatriots remember, the grim ex-spinster seamstressing for a select
clientele in order to put a little ""butter on the spinach""? The secret
sapphist recalled by her Latin Quarter lesbian roommate? Her ex-lover's
""mischievous and fanciful Croat,"" wrapped, as if in furs, in the luxurious aura of their love affair,
dancing the night into the dawn? (""She felt as if she'd slipped into the mantle of a Russian princess
leaving a St. Petersburg cabaret. . .on the arm of a mined gambler-prince."") Or is she merely the soured,
suburban housewife who ""began to sleep 12 or 14 hours a day after she married your father""? As seen
through the eyes of the daughter who questions various friends and family members, in the wake of her
mother's death, for fragments of her memory, Dara, like a latent image intensifying in the darkroom to
which we have gradually become accustomed, develops in stages before our eyes. Besson, though heir to
all that once seemed most radically avant-garde in French letters, is not a theoretician here and this is not a
""thesis novel,"" but an exquisite cameo as nostalgically familiar as anything in Zola.
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