Books by Josephine Hart

THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE by Josephine Hart
Released: Aug. 13, 2009

"Focusing on the overwhelming question Olivia asks her Harley Street therapist—'What's wrong with loving someone for life? Even when they are dead?'—Hart produces her least mannered, most moving novel to date."
An Irish boy's death continues to haunt his family circle for 40 years in Hart's elliptical, chimerical tale. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

"A bony, hasty affair, though with a therapeutic resolution that will bring satisfaction to Hart fans."
The reconstruction of a childhood trauma from conflicting points of view provides the riveting draw in English novelist Hart's latest dire page-turner (The Stillest Day, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
THE STILLEST DAY by Josephine Hart
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

The author of Damage (1991), Sin (1992), and Oblivion (1995) is back again with her most expansively titled, yet ungenerously plotted, novel of passionate obsession. Every moment of Bethesda Barnet's life has seemed foreordained ever since the death of her father, an art teacher, left her and her invalid mother still in possession of rooms at his old school at the insistence of the school's patron, Lord Edgar Grantleigh. In the fullness of time, Bethesda will assume a teaching post herself and accept the hand of Samuel Keans, the neighboring farmer. But when the sudden death of the teacher in the next apartment brings as his replacement Mathew Pearson, Bethesda, whose preoccupations have so far focused on such innocuous topics as classicism and romanticism, color versus line, finds herself in the grip of a monstrous attachment to his image. She paints his face on a mirror and gazes into her own face superimposed on it; she paints his hand on another mirror, his neck on a third, virtually exhausting the parts of his body she can ever hope to see. All the while Bethesda is festering with hatred for Mathew's pregnant wife Mary, and putting off her faithful swain's long-awaited proposal of marriage, she's obviously hurtling toward one of Hart's floridly cryptic calamities. Once the blow finally falls, Bethesda is bereft of her mother, her husband, and her object of irresistible desire—all vanished rather unsatisfactorily into thin air—and left languishing in a convent with perhaps too much leisure to reflect on her fatal vocation for art and romance, as the novel tails off into a flurry of sad apothegms. Hart's extravagantly understated prose remains peculiarly inhospitable to characters and events, which enter her story as furtive interlopers to be dealt with as summarily as possible. Its natural condition, like that of Pater or Poe, seems to be the high-sounding aphorism——In repetition the history of an old sin achieves an almost biblical resonance" —whose dominance turns this novel into a commonplace book. (First printing of 30,000) Read full book review >
OBLIVION by Josephine Hart
Released: Sept. 14, 1995

An odd, maudlin mix from the much-ballyhooed author of Damage (1991) and Sin (1992): What begins as another taut, obsessive novel of passion gets bogged down by a series of monologues performed by a cast ofdecidedly ungratefuldead characters. Andrew Bolton, a 30-ish television commentator in London, can't stop grieving for his young, beloved wife, Laura, who has been dead for just over a year. He has recently began a new relationship with Sarah, a woman who works at the TV studio, but it is Laura who still consumes his every thought. It happens that Laura's bereaved mother is also fixated by thoughts of her lost daughter, and when Andrew is given the opportunity to read his mother-in-law's diary, he learns just how deep and dangerous her obsession really is: She's been stalking Andrew and Sarah. This is promising chiller material, but Hart chooses to take the novel in a different direction. Andrew, it turns out, has scheduled a TV interview with a noted playwright named Catherine Samuelson, and so he sits in on a reading of her newest production, a lament of dead characters who are fighting ``oblivionwhen we are forgotten'' (a lament that takes up some 60 pages of this slim novel). Andrew's encounter with Catherine Samuelson includes a few words of hackneyed counsel (``Happiness is a decision. Make it. And don't cry'') that somehow set him on the right course to get on with his life. The potentially explosive situation with his mother-in-law ends with a whimper. And as for Laura? Well, it looks like obliviona fate that's preferable to sticking around in this mawkish and pretentious storyline. . Initially intriguing, but finally deadening. (Author tour) Read full book review >
SIN by Josephine Hart
Released: Aug. 1, 1992

Despite the pre-pub hoopla, this severe little tale of sisterly envy isn't the equal of Hart's widely praised debut, Damage (1991)—or maybe the author's real but slender gifts are just wearing out in unintentional self-parody. Ruth and Elizabeth are cousins raised as sisters; golden Elizabeth's parents died, and she was taken into Ruth's parents' home before Ruth was ever born. Cheated of her birthright, Ruth reacts with a pathological jealousy that alternately festers and hatches malevolent plots. Her plan to betray Elizabeth (who's grown into a minor painter of skyscapes) with her attentive husband Hubert is foiled by his indifference and accidental death (he leaves behind only an asthmatic son, Stephen), but she succeeds with Elizabeth's second husband, proper, haunted Sir Charles Harding, the magnate who buys her father's publishing house—the affair commencing when Charles comes to break the news of her father's death. As this tasteful adultery progresses, though, things begin to go awry: Ruth's mathematician husband Dominick realizes what's going on and threatens to leave Ruth and their son William; Charles withdraws by turns from Ruth and from Elizabeth (making Ruth's triumph less sweet); and a long-portended, heavily symbolic catastrophe leaves Ruth defeated and embittered. These weighty developments are set forth in a style in which oracularly self-important pronouncements alternate with dialogue redolent of adult baby talk (``I have changed. For example, I mock less''). The net effect is risible, yet peculiarly powerful in its elemental conception. Hart's ludicrously factitious rhetoric may be the sign of her true vocation—her authorship of massively bestselling bad-news comic books for grown-ups. Read full book review >