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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
One morning, watching his beautiful wife of 18 years apply her lipstick in front of the bathroom mirror, the anonymous professor who serves as the narrator of this powerful novel listens as she announces her intention to leave. He regards her with subdued resignation but says nothing. He has no idea if she is leaving for a weekend, a fortnight, or forever, nor does he ask for clarification. He reasons that he has no claim on her, regardless of the pain he knows intellectually that he will feel if his marriage comes to an end. She leaves, and their home, once so full of noise, falls empty and quiet; and a kind of paralysis sets in. From this stillness, the masterful Danish novelist Jens Christian Grondahl fashions a lucid, meditative tale with a deceptively simple plot, one that achieves remarkable complexity as a psychological and philosophical study.
In the silence of the empty house, the professor, trained as an art historian, turns his acute powers of observation to his marriage, the world around him, and the years that led him to the present. He is haunted by the memories of his former lovers -- the exotic Inés, who spun her beautiful web around him, and the youthful Elisabeth, for whom he was prepared to leave those he loved most. As for his wife, he questions what he really knows of her, or what anyone can really know of another. "We move on sand," he muses. But with his U.S. debut, Grondahl has firmly planted his feet on American soil. This is a novel that refuses to yield its ground -- nor should it. (Fall 2001 Selection)