THE CARPATHIANS by Janet Frame

THE CARPATHIANS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A deceptively low-key tale from New Zealand writer Frame, author of ten other novels and a well-received three-volume autobiography. With time and money on her hands, Manhattan patrician Mattina Brecon leaves Park Avenue for New Zealand to invest in real estate and local culture. Choosing the town of Puamahara, Mattina settles in among the residents of Kowhai Street for an extended field study and undertakes a polite door-to-door inspection of the neighborhood. Puamahara's one attraction, the legend of the Memory Flower, and the fact that many of its residents are retired, present to Mattina a community defined by memories. While the murder of a local excites Kowhai Street to speculation, the lives of its residents remain predictably routine: gardening, work, endless conversation. Just when Frame's project threatens to fade into pale domesto-drama, though, the author attempts to give Kowhai Street a bizarre spin. Filtering her narrative through a number of characters, point of view initially splays--and then entirely blurs--one evening when a supernatural event blends time, space, and memory on Kowhai Street. While far from convincing, Frame's narrative twists are nevertheless eerily dislocating, and redeem an otherwise humdrum venture.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Braziller