WE ARE ETERNAL by Pierrette Fleutiaux


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 A Gothic tale of incest takes a gnarled and long-winded turn to unsettle a rural French community in this Femina Prizewinning novel, the first of Fleutiaux's to be published in America. Five-year-old Estella loves her infant brother, Dan, in an unsisterly way from the moment she sees him. Through the years, that love mounts to an unnatural obsession erotically reciprocated by Dan. As children, the two do everything together--discover new lands on the family grounds, romp with irritating, omnipresent playmate Adrien, and wonder at the bizarre adults in their lives. There's the mother, a wispy has-been dancer; the father, a lawyer and voice of reason; and the nursemaid, Tiresia, eerie and veiled, who, like her Theban namesake, is nearly blind but can see the truth. As adults, the sibs part hostilely: Estella forsakes music for a husband and law studies, while Dan, angry at her abandonment, flees to New York to pursue dance and homosexuality. Estella's wrenching visit to his SoHo loft ends when Adrien calls them home for their parents' funeral. The funeral opens scabs: Adrien blames the siblings, they blame him, they blame themselves, and they ponder their abnormal family. But after a nearly interminable bout of tortured brooding, Estella and Dan get over it, become lovers, and move to Paris. The belabored Gothicisms--dark and stormy settings, superlatives of emotion, psycho-phenomena--are suffocating, and readers will be ready for the denouement long before it comes. The upshot is this: Tiresia waits until she's on her deathbed to reveal why the neighborhood's adults stifled the scandalous truth about the children's heritages. Incest, murder, abandonment, and intrigue should make a hot read--but this book, apparently taking its title to heart, seems to go on forever.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-316-28617-6
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1994