Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Birdcage Walk

'Birdcage Walk' by Helen Dunmore. I like Helen Dunmore, and I enjoyed this book, but do not find anything much to say about it. It is basically the story of an abusive relationship, but set at the time of the French Revolution. The heroine Lizzie has been bought up by her ferociously political mother with whom she has a close bond, but against whom she has rebelled by marrying Diner Tredevant, a local property developer. Against the background of european political upheaval her mother has a second child, and the relationship with her husband becomes steadily more disturbing as the truth about the fate of his first wife gradually emerges. It has an excellent build up of tension and menace, but the ending was too neat to be truly satisfying. 

Here Lizzie watches her husband from inside the darkness of their house:

"But he did not see me. He turned towards me, but i am sure he did not see me. The moonlight lay faint and blue and init I saw his face. It was not distinct: I could not see any feature. He looked up, and seemed to be scanning along the terrace, searching for something in the jagged half-built outline. It seemed as if his eyes passed over me and my heart thudded again.
His hands were clasped behind his back and he stood for a long time, unmoving. It gained on me that he was not looking at the terrace. There was something else, something I could not see.
At last he moved. He stepped away to the edge of the pavement, and disappeared. He was climbing down the steps that led to the track which was not yet a road. He would be hidden from me by the height of the pavement, and then he would reappear.
Sure enough, he did. He was on the turf now, and walking towards the edge of the Gorge. Moonlight showed the clear outline of his body as he moved. He looked smaller that I had ever imagined him. I must not blink in case the Gorge swallowed him as I might swallow the night air in my breath. But even though I watched and kept in watching, he vanished." (p.118)

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