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 Third volume in the filmmaker's intensely dramatic series of autobiographical novels inspired by his parents' lives, preceded by The Best Intentions (not reviewed) and Sunday's Children (1993). In a series of ``Conversations'' that span the years 192534, Anna Egerman, a married mother of three, describes to several relatives and friends her loveless marriage to a stern, prudish curate (Henrik) and her helpless surrender to her young lover Tomas (``I have put prohibitions like a highwall between him and me. But at the very slightest chance of seeing him, I at once knock down that wall''). Then, in a stunning reversal, the story shifts to an ``Epilogue/Prologue'' set in 1907 that offers a glimpse of Anna at 17, impulsive and a bit rebellious, clearly on her way to becoming the woman who will, years later, risk everything to assert her right to happiness. This is manifestly a filmmaker's novel. Its scenes are presented in vivid, meticulous detail and read essentially like stage directions. And it's fragmented in an interesting way that emphasizes the chaotic nature of the central experience--for example, mingling two conversing characters' thoughts with omniscient narration, or allowing the narrator (who is not distinguished from Bergman himself) to ``confess'' his imperfect understanding of the events and emotions he's describing. The confrontations are presented with a stark clarity that's reminiscent of some of the most memorable images in Bergman's films: a terrifically tense scene in which Anna refuses to have sex with her bewildered husband, then begs him for a few more days with her lover before ending the affair forever; Henrik's recovery from his initial shock, during which he interrogates his errant wife with emotionless ferocity; and Anna's meeting with her mother, who knows her daughter is lying to her and understands the extremes to which Anna will go to put Henrik out of her life altogether. A vibrant and moving addition to what begins to look more and more like a great work in progress.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-55970-364-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1996


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