TRADING SECRETS by Paule Constant


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The ambiguities of displacement and commitment are handled with real élan in this clever comic novel (its author’s seventh), which won France’s Prix Goncourt in 1998. It explores the interrelationships of four women who meet at a scholarly feminist conference held at a Kansas college. Pan-African intellectual Gloria Patter, the ebullient and rather self-important hostess, welcomes as her houseguests an alcoholic Norwegian film star (who’s into primal-scream therapy), a Jewish refugee from North Africa (the site of Constant’s superb earlier novel The Governor’s Daughter, 1998), and a French novelist (the pivotal character) for a series of less formal cultural exchanges that deftly reveal each one’s inner demons—while posing the perplexing question of where women belong in the world and how they realize their various potential. It sounds schematic, but Constant’s suave analyses of all four women give this engaging tale both welcome specificity and mind-teasing resonance.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 2001
ISBN: 0-8032-1510-X
Page count: 170pp
Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2001


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