A handsome prince turns into an ogre in a memoir that reads like a fairy tale.
When she was 27, novelist and memoirist Trussoni (Angelopolis, 2013, etc.), married with a 1-year-old son, met Nikolai, a mesmerizing Bulgarian “with an aura of invincibility about him.” As she confesses, “I was a woman ready to be swept away.” Nikolai, she told her dismayed husband, was “a magician who would make all my dreams come true.” At first blinded by his exoticism, Trussoni gradually realized that Nikolai was no hero, although he was so mired in superstition (evil eyes, mantras, and hexes) that he fit the description of a magician. Their marriage began to fall apart, and after 8 years and the failure of couples therapy, the author decided they must move “far away from everything—far from successes and troubles,” to a village in the south of France, where, she hoped, they could protect their “fragile love.” Installed in a medieval fortress, Nikolai became increasingly moody, withdrawn, and erratic. A friend, who plied him with herbal remedies, suggested a weekend getaway. When that turned sour, Trussoni decided to stage an elaborate renewal ceremony, but Nikolai had a near-breakdown during the ritual. The author devotes much of the narrative to reconstructing Nikolai’s long rants, but she offers little insight about her own insecurities and delusions. She consulted an astrologer, who told her that her soul yearned for “authentic love,” which would require “growing through hell.” Enter a gorgeous young Frenchman, with whom Trussoni began an affair, inciting Nikolai to desperate measures. The author is an engaging storyteller, but her memoir is weakened by clichés (a resident ghost, the princess locked in the castle) and stock characters, including a fairy godmother (her lover’s chic mother) who rescued her. Back in the United States, Trussoni eventually came to the trite conclusion that she could not sustain a relationship until she learned how “to be a singular person” who could be “happy alone first.”
An entertaining but too predictable tale.