Poet and Dancer

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Angel is dark and plain, introverted and submissive, a spontaneous composer of childish verses, wholly consumed by the wild, seductive spell of her cousin Lara - a beautiful, irresponsible creature who expresses herself in free-form dance. What begins as a tender and intimate attachment between two young girls deepens in adulthood into something complex and perilous, as Lara's life spins in increasingly erratic circles while Angel's passionate devotion to her remains undiminished. It is a feverish and ...
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Overview

Angel is dark and plain, introverted and submissive, a spontaneous composer of childish verses, wholly consumed by the wild, seductive spell of her cousin Lara - a beautiful, irresponsible creature who expresses herself in free-form dance. What begins as a tender and intimate attachment between two young girls deepens in adulthood into something complex and perilous, as Lara's life spins in increasingly erratic circles while Angel's passionate devotion to her remains undiminished. It is a feverish and impenetrable relationship, of reckless master and willing slave, one forged to shield both Angel and Lara from the harshness of their surroundings, as well as from the far greater terrors of the self. It is a relationship that will end in terror for the young women, and for their families. Set against the vivid, dream-like landscape of Manhattan in the recent past, Poet and Dancer is an altogether unforgettable novel, written with the subtlety, wry humor, and beauty that are the hallmarks of one of the world's leading novelists and storytellers.

A rich, haunting tale which explores the dangers of love and commitment, from Booker Prize/Academy Award winner Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Set against the vivid, dreamlike landscape of Manhattan in the recent past, this is the story of two cousins, whose experimental attachment deepens in adulthood into something complex and perilous.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jhabvala's latest novel deftly portrays the intimate relationship between two self-destructive first cousins. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Both a novelist and a screenwriter, Jhabvala won an Academy Award for her screen adaptation of A Room with a View . Perhaps her intention in writing this book was to use it as a future screenplay, for the main characters are too one-dimensional to appeal in a novel. The two American girls at the center of this work--the poet Angel and her cousin Lara, a dancer--are too eccentric to be credible. Although minutely drawn, they never seem to come to life. With minor characters such as a mother and son who are Indians, the author demonstrates her real strength; these characters are more sympathetic and real. A novel of disillusionment that will appeal primarily to Jhabvala's fans. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/92.-- Patricia C. Heaney, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
The latest from novelist and screenwriter Jhabvala (Three Continents, 1987, etc.): a quiet horror-tale of a relationship in which innocence willingly pays the price evil demands. Set in Manhattan in the recent past—a dreamy, nonspecific place—it's the story of two first cousins: beautiful and capricious Lara, who likes to dance, and plain but responsible Angel, who writes poetry. The two meet as children when Lara comes to New York to visit her grandparents, with whom Angel and her divorced mother Helen share a large house. On that visit, Lara seduces Angel. After college, Angel stays home and helps her mother in the import business she runs—but she never forgets that encounter. And when Lara returns to New York after her mother's suicide to live with her psychiatrist father, Hugo, Angel is as enthralled as ever. It's soon apparent, however—as Lara drifts from dance to acting, from casual pickups to seducing Angel's father, a wealthy businessman, who sets her up in an apartment—that Lara is different, dangerously so. Not "mad, just bad," says one friend. But Angel, ever dutiful in her decision to protect Lara, is in one sense assuming her habitual submissive role, yet in another is asserting for the first time her own wishes. As Lara's moods and behavior become more erratic, she makes Angel promise never to leave her, and while Angel realizes that "a great promise had been made and broken"—though it was not clear whether she had done it or whether it had been done to her—"the least she could do now was to keep her promise to Lara," with inevitably fatal results. A masterful portrait of "good people trying to do all right and the bad ones thatpull them down and win," from a writer of remarkably acute sensitivity and perception.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385468879
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.69 (w) x 8.86 (h) x 0.61 (d)

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