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Hospital, Janette Turner.

Toronto. McClelland and Stewart, 1989. 304pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7710-4218-3. CIP

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Volume 17 Number 3
1989 May

Charade, the heroine of this novel by this Australian-Canadian writer, grows up in Australia. Her obsessive search for her father leads the reader in a complex tale full of fantasy and symbolism to Boston. Toronto and England, Charade's mother, her aunt, her father, and her lover, Koenig, all take turns as narrators. In this novel, flashbacks, 'changes in narrative point of view, and chronological jumps demand an alert reader.

One recurrent theme is the concept of charade, that nothing is what it appears to be. in another plane, history itself is deceptive. The Zundel trial, which has a central role in Koenig's relationship with his former wife, emphasizes the theme that the search for truth is illusive. The scientist, Koenig, is completely confounded by the discovery that his wife continues to write letters to her dead relatives, the victims of nazism.

Initially, the themes of blurred reality and illusion, present and past, are intriguing. But the repetition becomes irritating and contrived. The symbolism in the names of the characters reduces them to stock characters. Literary artifice in the novel is simply too pronounced. Yet, there are well-written memorable sections, especially in Charade's mother's tale from the Australian rain forest and Charade's aunt's account of her university days. Only if you have extra money in your fiction budget should you consider the purchase of this novel for senior high school students.

Barbara Camfield, Ottawa, Ont.
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