TURN OF THE WHEEL by Roger Vailland


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The destructive effects of a grand passion are succinctly, dryly shown in this third novel which perhaps in the character of its theme- has a more concentrated intensity than the earlier and the Law. Milan and Roberte, married for fifteen years, go shooting at dawn in the country; they bag only a jay and a thrush, but enjoy talking together. This killing quickly becomes a more sinister motif, when Roberte deliberately draws the young, innocent, beautiful schoolteacher into their lives, as auditor and onlooker. To Helene they both, sometimes together, sometimes alternately, confide the story of the as well as an earlier tragedy. Helene is enthralled and is slowly, imperceptibly corrupted. She also fails in love with Milan. Meanwhile these two have been quarrelling and using her as a pawn; then Milan writes a letter to Helene, explaining what the already guesses- that their passion has long since become a crippling network of and dependence, and that he plans to leave Roberte but does not wish to be involved elsewhere. He leaves this letter where Roberte may possibly read it, and she kills herself... These sensual, intellectual people, withal likeable in themselves, are a frightening pair, and, though the book is too coolly written to be truly moving, it contains much bitter truth about a special relationship.

Publisher: Knopf