This one will be hard to describe. Something major happens, but not a lot actually happens. Much of this book is internal. Motives are always a question and the details – and the possibilities they present – matter a great deal. And Marias, writing in sentences reminiscent of Saramago (long and therefore sometimes hard to track, though with much less dialogue), wants us to consider stories and memories and truth and how they intersect and avoid each other. He’s also given us a narrator who is compelling and who most definitely has a conscience; what’s intriguing here is how she chooses to act in response to it. Throw in some Balzac, Dumas, and Shakespeare (his nuanced reading of “She should have died hereafter” is thorough and provocative), and you’ve got one of the finest, most delicately tense, language-rich novels I’ve ever read. Marias is a writer to savor. I’m not going to rush to my next one, but there will most definitely be a next one. (In the mean time, I would like to ask him a question about this one. There was one moment, a connection, left unexplored, and I want to know more about it and whether that choice was deliberate.)

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