- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
* Mp3 CD Format *. "The Uses of Enchantment" weaves a spell in which the power of a young woman's sexuality, and her desire to wield it, has a devastating effect on all involved. The riveting cat-and-mouse power games between doctor and patient, and between abductor and abductee, are gradually, dreamily revealed, along with the truth about what actually happened in 1985. Heidi Julavits is in full command of her considerable gifts, and has crafted a dazzling narrative sure to garner her further acclaim as one of the best novelists working today.
Echoes and parodies of complex psychosexual antecedents, including Freud's analysis of Dora, the Salem witch trials and parts of The Malleus Maleficarum, underlieJulavits's third novel. The novel's complex structure (it spans 15 years and weaves back and forth in time) creates listening problems that tax even a skilled performer like Shelly Frasier. Mary Veal, who may or may not have been kidnapped as a teen returns to West Salem, Mass., years later for her mother's funeral. Characters sound too similar: Mary sounds too much like her teen self and the two male characters, Mary's first therapist and the alleged kidnapper have almost identical voices. The same problem conflates Mary's sisters, Regina and Gaby. Frasier does a better job with Mary's well-to-do Aunt Helen and Roz Biedelman, Mary's second therapist, who is the manipulative spider at the center of this tangled web of a novel. Enchantmentmight be too much for any single reader to tackle, and a cast approach would have been a better idea. However, Frasier is an engaging performer, and the spell of this beguiling work will entrance listeners to the very end. A Doubleday hardcover (Reviews, July 10, 2006). (Feb.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
From the Hardcover edition.
The introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s conversation about Heidi Julavits’s The Uses of Enchantment.
1. Does Mary’s subterfuge with Dr. Hammer imply a criticism of therapy in general?
2. Why does Mary plagiarize Dora’s story? Does she really lack imagination, as her mother believes? Or is there another reason she co-opts Dora’s story?
3. How would Mary’s experience in therapy have been different if Dr. Hammer were a woman? Would Roz Biedelman have been a better therapist for Mary?
4. How does the New England setting and the town’s proximity to the Salem witch trials complicate Mary’s “crime”?
5. What is the emotional legacy of Abigail Lake, and how does it differently affect Mary, her sisters, and her mother?
6. Is Dr. Hammer just trying to further his career, as everyone suggests? Is Mary his victim, or is he her victim?
7. Mary’s relationship, or non-relationship, with her mother, is a key element in the book. Is Paula Veal to blame for what happens to Mary? Should she have forgiven her daughter?
8. Has “the girl,” Mary, been abducted by the man, or is the man her hostage? Who, in the end, has victimized whom?
9. In the What Might Have Happened chapters, are we meant to believe that this IS what happened to Mary? Or is this Mary’s fantasy of what happened? Or is it possibly even Dr. Hammer’s version of what happened? How do the shifting points of view (from the girl’s to the man’s) suggest one interpretation over another?
10. Books are important to Mary, but especially those that she has never read. What is the function of these books? Does it matter that the reader never really knows what’s inside of those books either? Can books sometimes exude more power if they remain unread?
11. Are we meant to believe Mary’s reason for explaining why Paula Veal cut her daughters out of her will (except for the painting of Abigail Lake)? Did she forgive Mary? Does it matter one way or the other what she intended?
Posted February 22, 2007
I read the first chapter online and it seemed great. After the first chapter it became a jumbled mess of reality and 'what might have happened.' Each chapter was told from a different perspective-Mary, the protagonist, her therapist and the narrator (who tells the reader the events of what might have happened to Mary). Frankly, I wanted to know what happened--I couldn't care less for what might have happened! While the plotline was phenomenal, the story was boring, boring, boring. My book club was also extremely disappointed.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 16, 2010
Although the premise sounded fascinating - abduction, mystery and deceit - it just didn't deliver. The sisters, although despicable, just grated on the nerves. The story was so disjointed and fragmented, I found myself counting - and recounting - the pages to the end. No uses for this unenchanting story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 17, 2009
Simply put, I had a very difficult time relating to the protagonist, Mary, or for that matter any of the other characters in this story. Everyone comes across as difficult, deceitful, and extremely self-absorbed. This includes both the male and female characters. I kept wanting to find someone who was honest and straightforward. The dialogue was downright biting most of the time. And I never got a good picture for why the mother was the way she was. At the same time, the story line of this novel propelled me along, making me want to understand Mary. It was also an interesting and original premise. I agree with another earlier reviewer--this is a good book for the right person.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 29, 2008
Posted April 20, 2007
I picked up this one at the library because I had read her previous book. I had to start it over several times because I couldn't get into the main character or any of the supporting characters..not interesting. While the writing is very good the premise came across as boring. Again, the dialogue is the best part of the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 26, 2006
I found this book via an especially dedicated 'New York Magazine' Fall Pick article in August, and became enthralled by its intriguing premise, ellicitng a news-story of '03 (or was it '04?), where a college girl feigned her own abduction. I found myself counting down the days from early August until its mid-October release. Never were so many mounting expectations (growing more so with each anticipatory day) fulfilled and surpassed by their promise when it comes to the literary rapture and lyrical voice that is 'The Uses of Enchantment.' The story is intoxicating. As a Freudian fiend and trauma-studies minor, I can say Julavits matches her inspiration and alights the genre to a new level while casting a shadow of doubt-and-suspect- thought on to her sources, beckoning the most avid- Dora-adherent to re-read Freud in a second-light (even if modern criticism hadn't so inclined them to do so before). As a a twenty-something female, I can say the yearning and sexual repression of the 'non-trauma' adolescent 'girl' experience, has never before been so quite throroughly fantasized, explained, and vicariously rebelled-against through reading this book. 'The Uses of Enchantment' is tell-tale in its directness, extraordinary in the interwoven storylines touching upon a gothic past revisited in a seemingly banal present, familiar in its frustration, curiosity, and gingerly-tread-line between danger and desire. In short, I love this book: great story, great structure, fantastic writing. I read it in one day.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 8, 2014
No text was provided for this review.