Transgressions

( 7 )

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 ...

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Transgressions

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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.

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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: 6/14/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 953,074
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Dunant
Sarah Dunant
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.

Biography

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. Other novels feature the challenging, often absurd, choices women face for love and identity.

Dunant's first two novels were actually co-authored with Peter Busby, thus creating their pseudonym, Peter Dunant. In Exterminating Angels (1983), whether they're called terrorists or modern-day Robin Hoods, the Exterminating Angels are out to set the record straight. For them, the ends always justify the means when righting the wrongs of the world. The political thriller Intensive Care (1986) describes a chance meeting at the site of an explosion in London.

The first book to be released under her own name was Snow Storms in a Hot Climate (1987), and features Marla Masterson. Marla, a young British professor of Anglo Saxon Literature goes to New York City to rescue a friend from her drug-addled, abusive boyfriend, but not before a murder mystery ensnares them all.

Three years later, Dunant introduced readers to Hannah Wolfe, a tough and witty Private Investigator. In Birth Marks (1990), Wolfe is hired to find a missing ballerina. Unfortunately, the dancer is found by the police -- eight months pregnant and at the bottom of the Thames. When everyone but Wolfe writes off the young single woman's death as a suicide, Wolfe pushes her investigation into London's dance companies and powerful Parisian families, searching for the father. Wolfe's reputation is put on the chopping block in Fatlands (1993). Wolfe finds herself on the trail of a violent animal rights activist group after they kill the daughter of a wealthy scientist for using animals in his experiments. The novel won Dunant a Silver Dagger award for Crime Fiction. Disguised as a customer, Wolfe investigates a string of sabotage at the Castle Dean health spa in Under My Skin (1995) and soon learns that, to some, beauty is something to die -- or kill -- for.

Breaking from her Hannah Wolfe series, Dunant's next release explores the line between victim and victor. In Transgressions (1997), translator Lizzie Skvorecky is making a living translating cheap Czech thrillers into English. When the strange events of the novels seem to occur in her real life, Lizzie realizes that someone -- or something -- is tampering with her reality, and accepts the violent challenge to her sanity. Kirkus reviews describes the novel as "an unsettling, often chilling, portrait of a compulsive predator and the woman who refuses to be his prey."

Mapping the Edge (1999) also portrays a woman's unusual challenges. When Anna, a single mother, takes a short vacation to Italy, leaving her six-year-old daughter with trusted friends, no one thinks twice. Until she doesn't return when scheduled. Anna's friends and her daughter endure the painful waiting while Dunant offers two explanations of Anna's disappearance. What if Anna abandoned the responsibility of motherhood to follow a hot love affair? Or perhaps Anna's life is in the hands of a sadistic killer.

Along with writing fiction, Dunant has also edited two works of non-fiction. War of the Words: The Politically Correct Debate (1994) debates the ever-changing idea of what is "acceptable" and the effect political correctness has on Liberalism. In The Age of Anxiety (1999), ten essayists discuss their anxiety -- or optimism -- for issues such as technology, family, and the end of the millennium.

Dunant's 2004 release marks her foray into historical fiction. The Birth of Venus captures the passion and the politics of deMedici Florence in the grips of a fundamentalist religious overhaul. As the city starts to purge itself of "the low and vulgar arts," the novel's heroine, Alessandra, falls in love with a young, suffering painter. Although her family marries her to a much older man, it is mostly a dismal marriage of convenience and she has a surprisingly large amount of time to spend at the side of her true love. Intelligent and daring, Duanant has combined a love story, a thriller and a historical novel in telling Alessandra's quest to find and protect her passions.

Good To Know

In our interview, Dunant shared some fun and fascinating facts about herself with us:

"I once worked as a hostess in a Japanese nightclub."

"My left foot is bigger than my right."

"I cannot whistle (no Humphrey Bogart for me, then)."

"Alas I don't have time to relax, although I am trying. The most important things in my life are my work, my children, my friends, and the possibility of a plane ticket to somewhere I have not yet been. When my kids grow up I want to have enough energy to get out a rucksack and take a long trip without a due-back-by date and the wonder to be changed by what I discover en route. Though right at this moment what I would like most is to remember where I put the car keys."

"And when it comes to writing, I just want to say that the novel is not the author. Just as the life is not the work or the work the life;instead literature is a kind of alchemy: turning lead into gold. Or at least that's the ambition."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Peter Dunant
    2. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 8, 1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cambridge University, 1973

Customer Reviews

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( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Yuck!

    I could not even finish this book I was so repulsed. Do not waste your time on this one!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2007

    Amazing how the mind can work...

    I had read THE BIRTH OF VENUS and was hooked into it within pages...the same with this book. I usually stick with historical fiction but flipping through this in the book store I thought that I may like this...and I wasn't disappointed! I read it in 3 days and would have taken less time had I not had to bother wih the REAL world...I can see how some may think this story absurd but I thought it was great a story in a story..I was sad when it ended and I think Sarah Dunant could have ended it in many different ways and I was happy to find out it didn't end the way I thought it would..not quite anyway. It may be a little far fetched but that is what makes reading so much fun isn't it? The ability to lose yourself into other worlds and others lives. I highly recommend this book and Birth of Venus. I will look at what else Dunant has written since these two were so very different yet I was happy with each I would like to find more writings of hers to enjoy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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