A multi-layered love story begins in Paris in 1934 and has repercussions that lead Alexei Gismondi to New York in 1980 on a search for the woman who holds the key to the mystery that obsesses him. A first novel. 50,000 first printing. Major ad/promo.
From Publishers Weekly
Appignanesi's first foray into fiction (her nonfiction books on the arts have been published in Europe) is an entertaining multigenerational saga. The time span ('30s-'80s), venues (Poland, Paris, Rome, New York) and cast of characters (pre- and post-WW II aristocracy and intelligentsia and their progeny) are familiar, and the requisite formula of drama, passion, sex and details of opulent lifestyles will please devotees of romance novels. The focal point of the story is talented, perplexing and erotic Sylvie Kowalska Jardine, whose haunting secrets impair and ultimately damage her personal and familial relationships, particularly that with daughter Katherine, who leaves home at 13 to escape her mother's violent behavior. Among the well-crafted characters are Thomas Sachs, a wealthy, hedonistic publishing entrepreneur who becomes the young Katherine's special mentor; Princess Mathilde, who shares many secrets with Sylvie's psychoanalyst husband; and dashing Italian film director Alexei Gismondi, whose appearance many years after Sylvie's untimely suicide begins the series of flashbacks that propel the plot. The author's wide-ranging knowledge of art, literature and history enriches the novel, making it an enjoyable if not particularly memorable read. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Sensual, unpredictable, Sylvie Kowalska enchants Jacob Jardine in pre-World War II France. She teases him with other men and women, marries him, pushes him away, and saves his life during the war. After the war, though, Sylvie becomes shrill and alcoholic; she loves her son, Leo, but psychologically abuses her young daughter, Katherine. Jacob, a renowned psychotherapist, can't keep Katherine from growing up in a miasma of pain. It is only after Sylvie's suicide and Katherine's flight from her sadistic husband that young filmmaker Alexei Gismondi provides the key to Sylvie's life and Katherine's salvation. Richly drawn memorable characters and a fluid, engaging writing style elevate this lengthy novel a notch above the usual glitz-and-romance fiction. Here the glitz plays second fiddle to the intense emotions which define plot and carry dialog. Highly recommended for popular fiction collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/91.
- Donna L. Schulman, Cornell Univ. Libs., New York
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
First novel from Polish-born scholar and critic Appignanesi (Postmodernism, Ideas from France, etc.--not reviewed): a big, rich family romance that strives for intelligent characterizations while loading on entertainment values. Pivotal here is Sylvie Kowalska, a Polish teenager of great musical talent and equally strong erotic drive. While at a concert in Paris, Sylvie begins a steamy seduction of psychoanalyst Jacob Jardine and at the same time has a lesbian affair with fellow schoolgirl Caroline. Sylvie's flirting with men at cafes inflames Jacob and eventually drives him to marry her, although he knows that her sexual volatility can never be held in check by either of them. Jacob, before meeting Sylvie, has had a long affair with Mathilde, who now abandons him reluctantly to marry Prince Frederick of Denmark, a cold fish. Sylvie thinks Mathilde a rival. During the Nazi occupation, Sylvie saves Jacob's life when he is a prisoner; then, pregnant, she goes to Poland to see a beloved friend. While there, she has a boy baby but after delivery distractedly switches the boy for a girl baby to satisfy both Jacob and the memory of the now-dead Caroline, who's committed suicide. Sylvie is a vicious mother to baby Katherine, whose story takes over. Meanwhile, the switched baby boy, Jacob's real son Alexie Gismond, eventually becomes a famed Italian film director, then is told by Sylvie that he is her son--but she kills herself before explaining all to him. Alexie begins tracking down Katherine, who deeply loves Jacob, her so-called father. Waiting for the recognition scenes between Katherine and Jacob and between Katherine and her lover Alexie (whom she comes to believe is her brother) keeps the reader charged. But the story's resolution comes about irritatingly as a result of information from offstage. Lots of analysis, sex, and references to great artists make for gripping fun that never rises above fur-lined romance. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
- Publisher : Dutton; 1st edition (February 1, 1992)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 576 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0525934030
- ISBN-13 : 978-0525934035
- Item Weight : 1.98 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.42 x 1.81 x 9.21 inches