A sweet little allegory with an afterbite as a sad, lonely housewife reaches adventure and despair on her flying scooter: the first US appearance for Belgium-born writer and translator Nirgad.
Layla, one of five daughters whose names start with L, lives a straitened suburban life in a cold, tight house with her own three perfect daughters and a silent, cold husband when she discovers that the rusty scooter out back can fly. First, she asks it to fly her to Alaska but is put off when the resident talking mink tells her there’s nothing but whiteness to be seen. Her sisters are well-intentioned but suspicious: Liora, the oldest, who bottles elixirs to keep her family nice and small; Lenora, the loose, unmarried one with a frigid, unfeeling heart; Lihi, the youngest, who “hadn’t learned any tricks yet”; and the sad dead sister, Luna, who was torn apart by the Winds at age 12 after the fatal pact made by their mother. Luna can come back occasionally because the sisters have promised the Winds never to love a man while he lies asleep—a promise Layla will break when she meets her Prince, for, once she gets going, there’s no stopping Layla. She flies to Prague and discovers her voice, which was always too timid to be heard. She stays out later than she should, and her husband begins to fume and offers her an ultimatum: either stay or lose her daughters. Will this seemingly innocuous little fairy tale end happily or tragically? Nirgad relies on a breezy, ironical tone, never letting the reader quite know whose side she’s on but just taking delight in telling the story. Her chatty, knowing approach is winning, leaving much to ponder in this modern-day morality tale that fathoms depths of the heart as profoundly as might Madame Bovary.
A feminist tale for all good men and women who fancy they sleep well at night.