Monday, February 19, 2007

The Illusionist

I found Francoise Mallet-Joris' The Illusionist on the new books shelf at my library and was immediately intrigued by a review excerpt on the front cover: "A lesbian classic with a real erotic punch." The novel was first published in 1952 and the 2006 new edition I read is a translation.

The Illusionist tells the rather shocking (for its time) story of Helene, a 15-year-old girl who has an affair with Tamara, her father's 36-year-old mistress. Even more surprising is that Mallet-Joris wrote the novel when she was just 19. Tamara is not a kind lover, but often abusive and cold.

The novel is intriguing and unusual enough to keep one's interest, but this is not a novel for someone who enjoys a well-structured plot with an assortment of characters that is guided along by significant events. This is a novel for those who enjoy their literature rich in psychology and the interior workings of the mind.


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