Confinementby Carrie Brown
On a snowy night in the winter of 1946, Arthur Henning arrives at a New York banker's country estate. All he has with him are his young son, his sewing machine, and the painful history of the refugee—the home in Vienna he left behind, the wife and infant daughter who perished in Lonon's blitz, and the relatives and friends who disappeared into the abyss of
On a snowy night in the winter of 1946, Arthur Henning arrives at a New York banker's country estate. All he has with him are his young son, his sewing machine, and the painful history of the refugee—the home in Vienna he left behind, the wife and infant daughter who perished in Lonon's blitz, and the relatives and friends who disappeared into the abyss of the Holocaust. He has come to begin a new life and to forget.
Once an expert tailor, now he is employed as a chauffeur. He drives Mr. Duvall to work in the city, Mrs. Duvall to her shopping, their daughter, Agatha, to school. The job gives Arthur solace. There's a cottage for him and his son, Toby, to live in, congeniality in the mansion's kitchen with the other servants, pleasure in watching Toby grow up alongside charming little Agatha. And so there he remains for nearly a decade, hidden, unable to confront his shattered faith, his fear, and the measure of everything he has lost.
Hidden, that is, until life steps in to release Arthur from his seclusion. On orders from Mr. Duvall, he must drive Agatha to her own confinement in that peculiarly evil American institution of the 1950s, a home for unwed mothers. The Duvalls' plan to give the baby away shocks Arthur from his emotional slumber. The story of these two people—a man who has lost his past and a girl who is forced to give up her future—winds its way to a conclusion that is both inevitable and wholly unpredictable.
Infused with her trademark haunting sensibility, Carrie Brown's fourth novel is a deeply moving tale of the small miracles and large revelations of love.
- Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.82(w) x 8.72(h) x 1.25(d)
Meet the Author
Carrie Brown, a former journalist, lives in Sweet Briar, Virginia, with her husband, the novelist John Gregory Brown, and their three children. Her first novel, Rose's Garden, won the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award. Her most recent book, The Hatbox Baby, won the 2001 Great Lakes Booksellers Association award for fiction and the 2001 Library of Virginia Literary Award.
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Carrie Brown makes her readers think and pass judgment. The characters in Confinement, like The Rope Walk, possess a maligned innocence. The novel challenges the reader to assess the characters' judgment and morality as they struggle with questions of religion, society, addiction, fear, love, and family.
In 1939 Jewish tailor Arthur Henning accompanied by his wife, their son and their infant daughter barely escapes the Nazi invasion of his hometown of Vienna. He relocates in London, but ironically tragedy occurs about a year later when his spouse and daughter die during a Nazi air assault. --- In 1946 Arthur and his son Toby immigrate to the United States. In the New York City suburbs, he becomes a chauffeur to wealthy banker Mr. Duvall and his wife. However, Toby impregnates the Duval daughter Aggie, who refuses to reveal the identity of the father to her parents. Having no say, Aggie is sent to Mrs. MacCauley¿s house for unwed mothers. When the child is born, the baby is given away for adoption. Over the years the five participants increasingly feel betrayed by their loved ones.--- This character driven historical tale uses flashbacks to provide insight into war years and the beginning of the boomer era. The story line is cleverly designed so that the audience knows how the key quintet feels especially Arthur who believes that life is one big tragedy. Though quite dark in outlook fans of deep pessimistic mid twentieth century stories will want to be confined with Carrie Brown¿s gloomy tale.--- Harriet Klausner
Carrie Brown is surely one of the most gifted writers working today. Her prose is luminous, tugging on heartstrings, brilliantly evoking a place. Her first novel, Rose's Garden, stands alone, reflecting Ms. Brown's empathy for and understanding of her characters. Lamb In Love fulfilled the promise found in her initial offering. With Confinement the author has lost none of her deft pen, her delicately painted scenes, yet for this reader the story was so lugubrious, ponderous that one was oft tempted to put it aside. This effect may well have been brought about by the time protagonist Arthur Henning spends in rumination. In a nutshell, it is his story. With the aid of friends Arthur and his young son, Toby, have come to the country estate of a New York banker. He is a refugee, driven from his Vienna home by the Nazis and now a widower, having lost his wife, Anna, and infant daughter in a London bombing. All of this is more than Arthur can accept or comprehend. It was Anna he tells us who had faith and could speak properly to God. As for him, 'He could only speak to God as he would speak to anyone, and he did not know, now, whether even Anna would have been able to pray to a God who could fail to rise up against such evil as the world had seen.' This paradox haunts him constantly. Further, in Vienna he was a tailor; here he is a chauffeur. Yet, he has found refuge because there is a cottage for him and Toby, and conviviality with the other servants. Thus, for a decade, Arthur remains somewhat at ease, taking pleasure in watching Toby and the family's daughter, Agatha, grow. But, at last, his stillness is interrupted when he's ordered to drive Agatha to a home for unwed mothers where she is to have her baby and give it up for adoption. Once again, for Arthur, the incomprehensible is taking place, and it is enough to make him see what his life has become and what might be done. The denouement? A heartbreaking one that could only flow from the pen of Carrie Brown. - Gail Cooke
A moving, riveting tale. You've got to read it to be sucked in by the magic that Brown weaves with her words. Read up on her, too...She's pretty incredible. Fantastic story, intricate characters, spellbinding plot. Brown puts it all together, and it melts in your mouth.
This story of an Austrian Jew who emigrated to the US after World War II rings true with authenticity and provides great insights into the times from a unique perspective. However, I felt cheated since the protagonist dances around the subject of his son's disappearance throughout the whole story, even though it is told from his point of view and we are privy to his thoughts the entire time. Also, the ending smacked of 'Deus ex machina.' Everything and everyone in the story led a miserable existence, and in the final few paragraphs we are supposed to believe that now, finally, everything will be all right. It was just a little too much to swallow.
I'm really glad Carrie Brown put the work into this book for us. It's so finely crafted and emotionally honest that it really stands out from most other fiction I've read. What can I say, Arthur Henning now feels like a close friend of mine, and the characters are as real to me as any other family I know. A really great book that was a joy to read!