This astute and mystifying novel by a French psychologist follows two men, two women and a little girl who become acquainted in a New York City park. As their relationships develop, they reveal their desires: Immigrant Chico wants a new homeland and a woman to love; Anna craves danger and excitement; Mary longs to understand and feel closer to her child, Nathalie. Lastly, there is Julien--a seductive, violent Brooklynite who attaches himself to Nathalie and steals Anna's heart. Deftly, Kaplan explores adult and childhood sexuality, the bond between parent and offspring and our universal search for the child within, even as we deny its existence. Her style is refreshingly impressionistic and lyrical, revealing the tale through the unconscious drives and associative imagery of characters who in other respects remain deliberately shadowy. Driven by traumatic childhood memories, Julien, for instance, paces the city and sees a landscape that matches his emotions: ``Matter and color, and always the sky, the changing frameless sky which rolls and shifts, beckons and carries away.'' (Jan.)
This disturbing book, the first English translation of a novel by prominent French psychologist and philosopher Kaplan, hints at the unhealthy underpinnings of the relationship between six-year-old Nathalie and Julien, the young man who befriends her and her mother, Mary. The story weaves a web around the adults, including Julien and Mary, who frequently meet in Central Park in New York City to observe other city dwellers as well as one another. The adults all focus on the attractive child, but it is Julien who crosses the line with his philosophy that childhood is an invention whose goal is gratification. While the setting is arousing, frenzied Manhattan, the text is spare and the characters lack full-bodied development. Still, Kaplan's message is clear: She has chosen to plunge beneath the surface of acceptable behavior. Of interest to literary collections that buy on the fringes of mainstream fiction.-- Mary Ellen Beck, Troy P.L., N.Y.