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Matt Cohen

Toronto, Lesler & Open Dennys, 1990. 201pp, cloth, $24.95
ISBN 0-88619-362-1. Distributed by Key Porter Books. CIP

Reviewed by Joan Kerrigan.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

Matt Cohen's most recent novel provides a moving reading experience for the mature reader who has sufficient background to understand the compli­cations of human relationships, particu­larly those that have been influenced by horrors endured during an earlier period.

Melanie Winters is a survivor of a World War II concentration camp, and that experience has scarred her to the extent that her life has become a night­mare of emotional crises, with negative effects on the lives of her husband and son. Two fellow survivors, an English writer and a Soviet dissident, form an essential part of her life, and the tragic climax of the novel occurs when the three are reunited in Canada.

Cohen writes perceptively about the everyday loneliness of a couple who cannot relate to each other's life experi­ences. The philandering husband, Professor David Winters, his son says, "had only been an innocent, a man like other men, like me, a cocky lonely vulnerable ambitious middle-aged creature stranded in the middle of a life he didn't understand, suddenly con­fronted with the possibility of escaping into a universe of soft skin, warm arms." Such a man could not possibly under­stand the horrors Melanie had endured in the camp.

This well-crafted but sophisticated novel is recommended for library collections in post-secondary educa­tional institutions.

Joan Kerrigan, Ontario Ministry of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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