Neither artifice nor parlor game, the title refers to the various versions of herself considered by Charade Ryan, a young Australian searching for her father. Raised in the bush by her mother, an earthy, clear-eyed woman content with her 10 children and no husband, Charade is obsessed by a need to know her English father and leaves to find him as soon as she's old enough. His trail fades in England, but she continues on to Canada; then in America, she attends the classes at MIT of a famous physicist whose resemblance to her father was once noted by her aunt. Charade and the professor begin an affair that is erotic, episodic and very talky, befitting intercourse between a woman whose name echoes Scheherazade's and a man called only Koenig. Amid references to the flux of time, along with quotes ranging from The Book of 1001 Nights through Captain Cook's journals to Robert Oppenheimer, Charade tries to trace the truth of her beginnings. At the same time, Koenig attempts to disengage from his former wife, who was a Jewish child in Nazi Germany. How the two stories connect illustrates Turner's fine-tuned story-telling abilities ( Borderline ), but by this complex tale's end readers may be feeling as full of uncertainty as Heisenberg's principle of physics predicts. (Mar.)
One of ten illegitimate children of Bea Ryan, Charade (that's Sha-rahd) leaves the remote Australian bush country to try to locate the long-gone father she's never met. In this many-layered drama of dreamlike/real/possible explanations of the past, Charade struggles futilely to unearth the truth of her history. Hospital's story and characters are vivid, but she is a complicated stylist, and the reader works hard to follow the twisting path of discovery: under what name is Charade's supposed father living? On what continent? Who was Verity Ashkenazy, the mysterious, troubled woman he is thought to have followed? Tantalizing, convoluted, with few substantial rewards, but shimmering with possibilities. Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.