THE BERNARDINI TERRACE by Suzanne Prou

THE BERNARDINI TERRACE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the fourth of Suzanne Prou's chimerical novels of evil where you barely hear the rustle of the pages. It is by far her best book--elegantly precise, cunningly imprecise, with an ""impenetrable glacis"" of memories, maybes, ""some so-it-is-saids,"" ""some it-may-have-beens."" They're all dusted with conjecture--like the scent of orris root and stale skirts which emanate from two very old ladies on the terrace of the Bernardinis in a provincial French town. ""A huge tomb strewn with flowers."" There they seem to symbiotically survive on their strange interdependence and their once shared love for Paul Bernardini, the husband of one, the lover of the other, until he shot himself, or did he? Paul, an only wastrel son; Laure, the butcher's daughter strictly raised, in both ways, above her beginnings; and Therese, the little milliner who was his intermittent mistress. There they are, little old women in wicker chairs, sucking their pastilles, tapping their canes. Mme. Prou's black cameo demands not only that one read between the lines--perhaps one should read them twice not only for what is suggested but also for what is so discreetly said (the translator deserves high praise). Even if ""the whole truth does exist,"" the air is heavy with innuendo, acrid desire and surmise.

Pub Date: April 6th, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row