Transgressions

Transgressions

3.0 7
by Sarah Dunant
     
 

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Elizabeth is a modern woman. Smart. Independent. As sexual as she wants to be–with whomever she wants to be. But a breakup with her academic boyfriend has hit her harder than she cares to admit. And while her latest gig, translating a glitzy Czech thriller into English, offends her literary sensibilities, it arouses others with its steamy scenes of eroticism,

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Overview

Elizabeth is a modern woman. Smart. Independent. As sexual as she wants to be–with whomever she wants to be. But a breakup with her academic boyfriend has hit her harder than she cares to admit. And while her latest gig, translating a glitzy Czech thriller into English, offends her literary sensibilities, it arouses others with its steamy scenes of eroticism, violence, submission, and dominance.

Then, when her favorite Van Morrison CD disappears from its rack and her house is inexplicably violated, Elizabeth is afraid she’s starting to lose it–she even consults a local vicar about the possibility of poltergeists.

But what this woman in the lovely Victorian is experiencing is not supernatural. Nor is it madness. For in the dead of night, she will suddenly come face-to-face with her tormentor. She will smell him, she will touch him, and she will make a choice. Then the real haunting will begin.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A sinewy and intelligent thriller about the power relations between men and women . . . [Dunant keeps] those pages turning.”
Esquire

“A chilling–sometimes terrifying–and tautly written thriller.”
The Times (London)

“Dunant demands your total attention. . . . [Her skill is] in orchestrating tension, both sexual and psychological.”
Literary Review

“A supercharged, knuckle-in-the-mouth, heart-stopping roller-coaster of a book.”
The Irish Times

“Pulses with emotional truth and heart.”
The Mail on Sunday

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
There's a lot of showy exposition about the complicated ebb and flow of sexual power and violence, but, in the end, this thriller is about cheap thrills. Dunant, author of the popular Hannah Wolfe mystery series (Under My Skin, 1995, etc.), tells the story of Elizabeth Skvorecky. Recovering from a bad split with her live-in lover, Lizzie hunkers down in her London mansion to translate a trashy Czech police thriller. At first she resists the tale, internally railing against its images of mutilated female torsos and women chained up as dogs. But she gradually discovers that the misogynistic violence has "burrowed its way under her skin." In fact, it makes her hot. Meanwhile, someone appears to be infiltrating her home: CDs are disappearing, possessions are moved and then the manuscript of her translation is smeared with ketchup. Her vindictive ex? A ghost? When Lizzie awakens one night to find a stranger perched on her bed clutching a hammer, she seduces him proactively and is unexpectedly, and disturbingly, aroused. But when she learns that a serial "hammer rapist" is amok, she stops congratulating herself for surviving and begins stalking her stalker, baiting him with throbbingly sadistic chapters ostensibly translated from the Czech thriller but which, in fact, she has written herself to spook the prying rapist. Dunant "quotes" long passages of both the porn thriller and Lizzie's addenda, and then dismisses them as "total crap." Presumably, Lizzie is somehow empowered by writing bad porn, but we're certainly no better for reading it. Ultimately, it's hard to distinguish between what Lizzie writes and the ill-conceived, poorly disguised appeal to prurience Dunant has penned. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A London Czech translator threatened by a rapist goes after her tormentor with a vengeanceþin this straight-suspense holiday from Dunant's Hannah Wolfe detective stories (Under My Skin, 1995, etc.). The false notes in Elizabeth Skvorecky's life begin so quietly that she assumes she's imagining thingsþthe Van Morrison CD that's disappeared from her collection, the replacement CD that vanishes from her disc player. Surely there's no reason for her departed lover Tom, a classical music buff, to have helped himself to music he despised. And Tom himself, though not above a supercilious sneer when Lizzie calls to ask him to return his housekey, ends up sending back the key, and a Van Morrison disk to boot. But then somebody repeatedly breaks into her house, marking his place with uncanny signaturesþstacking up all her CDs in a neat pile, setting the kitchen table for two, spattering the manuscript she's been translating with ketchupþand leaving Lizzie almost as confused as frightened. What's going on here? The locksmith she calls to beef up her security respectfully suggests she may be harboring a poltergeist; the local vicar she consults talks about outbursts of suppressed emotion. Then, shortly after Lizzie's responded to her importunate friends by pulling herself away from the translating job long enough to restart her sex life, she confronts her nemesis, a hammer-wielding rapist, face to face. So far everything has been routine, if breathlessly so; but with Lizzie's obligatory scene with the intruder, which she transforms from rape to edgy seduction, Dunant strikes out into new territory, as Lizzie declines to call the police on the departed attacker, determiningto hunt him down herself, and baiting a trap for him with salaciously, subversively altered passages from her translation, and with the promise of settling scores with her for good. An unsettling, often chilling, portrait of a compulsive predator and the woman who refuses to be his prey.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812974300
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/14/2005
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
378,909
Product dimensions:
5.26(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.84(d)

Meet the Author

British novelist, broadcaster, and critic Sarah Dunant is well known on both sides of the pond for her bestselling series of mysteries featuring sleuth Hannah Wolfe. With her first historical novel, The Birth of Venus, Dunant explores another scene: Renaissance-era Florence.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
London, England
Date of Birth:
August 8, 1950
Place of Birth:
London, England
Education:
B.A., Cambridge University, 1973

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