Like the eponymous narrator of Redmon's first novel, Emily Stone (1974), Irene Ward is somewhat repressed, both emotionally...

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Like the eponymous narrator of Redmon's first novel, Emily Stone (1974), Irene Ward is somewhat repressed, both emotionally and sexually. But for her, it's a good thing; an epileptic, she's spent her life in the shadow of her brother and sister, twins united in an unholy bond. Part religious allegory, part gothic page-turner, this haunting story delves into mysticism and madness, but ends up a simple struggle between good and evil. Irene, Mathilde, and Durrand grew up fatherless and in genteel poverty in Baltimore, their homosexual father's absence blamed on Irene's ""messy"" fits. While the heartless Durrand, Irene's ""childhood persecutor,"" considered her disability the devil's doing, her sister fancied Irene a medium, and encouraged her ""visions."" Never in doubt about Durrand's nasty and violent nature, Irene long displayed a profound ambivalence towards her beautiful and talented sister. The novel accounts not only for Durrand's pathetic death as a failed member of a fascistic Catholic cult (clearly based on Opus Del), but it also explains how Mathilde, a wealthy and successful restorer and dealer of Russian icons, is found dead in the Gobi Desert. The latter bizarre death was set in motion when Mathilde summoned her subservient sister, a teacher in Maine, to share in her grief for Durrand while traveling through Siberia and Mongolia--a strange group tour on which Irene meets the perfect man, an English gent who accepts her as she is: confused, frightened, and dominated by her arrogant sister. Told with hindsight, Irene's narrative often collapses time and place--another mystifying aspect of this somewhat incredulous tale. At times overwritten (""tears were pulled from my eyes by the past's gravity""), this is an otherwise elegant rendering of a complex internal life.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1987