The year is 1957 and the place is Paris, where the psychic wounds of World War II have barely begun to heal. Saffie, a young German woman, becomes maid, then wife, to Raphael, a privileged French musician who finds her remoteness provocative and irresistable. One day in the old Jewish quarter of the city, where she has taken Raphael's flute to be ...
The year is 1957 and the place is Paris, where the psychic wounds of World War II have barely begun to heal. Saffie, a young German woman, becomes maid, then wife, to Raphael, a privileged French musician who finds her remoteness provocative and irresistable. One day in the old Jewish quarter of the city, where she has taken Raphael's flute to be repaired, Saffie meets a Hungarian instrument maker - and all their lives are unexpectedly, dramatically altered. Driven by passion but damaged in different ways by war, these two people find themselves crossing dangerous boundaries. Told against the rising tide of violence unleashed by the Algerian conflict, The Mark of the Angel builds to a shocking climax conveying the loss of innocence and the tragic irony of these lives twisted out of shape by the weight of history.
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Publishers Weekly, 1999-08-02 Drenched in irony, and very French in sensibility, Huston's U.S. debut must overcome an unfortunate beginning before it gallops away with the reader's mesmerized attention?but once underway, it fascinates with its blend of cynicism and romance, and its dramatization of the roles of accident and fate, and of evil and injustice, in human history. Initially, one must accept a far-fetched plot: that when world-famous flutist Raphael Lepage sees Saffie, the young German woman who answers an ad for a maid to clean his luxurious Paris apartment, he immediately succumbs to overwhelming love and soon afterward marries her?despite the fact that she is as emotionless as a zombie, does not even remotely return his affections and is anathema to his beloved mother, who has never forgiven the Nazi occupation 20 years before. Even the birth of a son does not thaw Saffie's cold indifference, which persists until she meets András, a Hungarian-Jewish refugee who repairs musical instruments; the mutual recognition of irresistible passion releases all her emotions. During their liaisons in his little shop in the Marais, András tells Saffie about the destruction of his family in Budapest, and she reveals her own traumatic memories of WWII?the Allied bombings, her father's complicity with the campaign of annihilation, her mother's brutal rape by conquering Russian soldiers. Even as their affair unfolds, however, the horrifying events of the 1940s are being repeated in Algeria and France, as FLN terrorists strike back at French atrocities. In the end, innocence must die, as, Huston reminds us, it always has and always will. While Huston often overwrites and sometimes indulges in arch asides, once she establishes her story's central ironies, the narrative achieves a relentless velocity. A scene in which both Saffie and András recall separate incidents in which poorly buried bodies erupt through the earth, drenching the soil with blood, is a shattering reminder of the endless cycle of human violence. Canadian-born Huston has lived in France for more than three decades, where her books (seven novels plus nonfiction works) are bestsellers. BOMC and QPB selections; paperback rights to Vintage. (Oct.) FYI: The Mark of an Angel won the French Prix des Lectrices d'ELLE and the Prix des Librairies in Canada, and is shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt in France. Huston's other awards include the Prix Contrepoint, the Prix Goncourt Lyceen and the Canadian Governor General's Award in French. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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