THE ALABASTER EGG by Gillian Freeman


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Roughly or rather smoothly, Miss Freeman is a younger, trimmer, sharper Sybille Bedford -- in other words worldly in her insights and precise in her annotations and she has synchronized this story of present and past with seamless transitions which emphasize the parallel she is making between the madness of Ludwig the Second of Bavaria and Hitler's Germany. The former appears here in the insets of a diary kept by one of his lovers (Ludwig was a homosexual), the uncle of the lover of Hannah who tells this story. Hannah receives the diary, an alabaster egg, and other mementoes which revive her young love affair with Peter during the early '30's -- Peter who took her to see his uncle but also to a party at Hitler's flat with Geli Raubal who died suddenly (this is authentic); Peter who fathered Hannah's child; Peter who was feckless and ambitious and charming, a disastrous combination; and Peter who abandoned her at the time of their deportation having said ""if we had the choice, to stay out of context."" Miss Freeman is a quietly faultless writer who seems to achieve her best effects almost by throwing them away -- so that the attractions of her novel become all the more apparent: it is circumstantially real and personably sympathetic.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1971
Publisher: Viking