ANNA TELLER by Jo Sinclair


Email this review


Considerable maturity, compassion and understanding characterize this, the fourth novel by the author of Wasteland, which won the Harper Prize some years ago. While perhaps the impact and the identification of that -- her first book -- is lacking in this, it is a distinguished book which handles a difficult and relatively untouched subject with a sure effect. Anna Teller was known as ""the General"" in Hungary where her vital force and drive was a dominant factor not only in her children's lives but in the village where they spent their childhood- and in Budapest, where she moved when schooling and greater opportunities were needed. Blind to the approaching threat of Hitler's amschluss she managed to override the storm, even though her son-in-law, a non-Jew, betrayed his wife and children, and his brother-in-law, Paul- and all perished in a concentration camp. Only her eldest, Emil, who had gone to America, was left. But Anna was not ready to leave her homeland to go to him. It took the Revolution- and the Communist reprisals -- and the death of the friend she had nursed- to free her for escape and the journey to America. Basically, she was unchanged. Even in her seventies she could not relinquish her dominant force. And she was unprepared for the change in her gentle poet, Emil-for his competent American wife, Liz. She found her role in the home-pushing others aside- in relation to the two boys:- Steve, who felt himself insecure in his father's heart and found safety in his grandmother; even in Andy, magnetic, winning rowdy. For the terrified, uncertain Abby, to whom Emil was a god- and her illegitimate son her star, Anna was a symbol. And yet to Emil- and to Liz- Anna was a threat, a disintegrating force -- and the whole drive of personality on personality came to a tragic crisis, when Emil forced his mother out -- and Steve followed her. It is a story with many threads- back to the old country and the old ways, forward to the new country, involving recognition of the necessity for growth and understanding and acceptance. Character after character comes into focus, and the developments, sometimes engineered by one, sometimes by another, keep the reader driving ahead through an overlong, overdetailed, but fascinating story . A new publisher for Jo Sinclair promises substantial backing.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1960
ISBN: 1558610669
Publisher: David McKay