THE BLACK GARDEN by Christine Arnothy


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Before she died, the wife of Dr. Dusz had fixed it so that everything in their garden blossomed black. ""Your mother died of old age, mine of disgust...."" Sigrid Dusz reminds Yves Barray, the middle-aged Frenchman who hides her for a week from the Israeli agent who has dogged her for years in the conviction that Sigrid can lead him to top Nazis--especially her father, who had conducted research in torture on living victims at Dachau. Barray had picked Sigrid up in the hope of an extramarital and uncharacteristic fling during the week he is spending alone in his old family home, scheduled to be demolished. Both are obsessed with their childhood years--he with the lost contentments of the seafront Deauville house, she with the horrors of the black garden. As Sigrid compulsively murmurs, rants and retches up the story of a lifetime of inherited guilt, Barray swings between the extremes of attraction and repulsion, anxious for shared tenderness. When Sigrid leaves, Barray commits himself too late to finding and protecting her. Again, the odd couple are matched in their separation--she with the legacy of ""the sins of the fathers,"" his the personal burden of ineffectual regret. This hasn't quite the impact of the earlier I Am Fifteen and I Don't Want to Die but it works quite effectively as a strong short story in which the dialogue reveals the emotional thrust.

Pub Date: May 26th, 1969
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston