Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Woman Run Mad, by John L'Heureux

A Woman Run Mad is a psychological thriller--fast-paced, well-written, and character- centered. It is a novel of obsessions and deception.

The book has few characters: Quinn, an egotistical, self-deluded writer of fiction; Claire, his wife, classicist and professor of Greek tragedies; Sarah, a troubled, wealthy woman with a dark past; Angelo, admirer of Kiergegaard, guardian of Sarah; and Porter, brother of Sarah and lover of Angelo. Leopold, a troll-like little boy who lurks in hallways repeating, "I saw you," acts as the Greek chorus.

The modern drama is set against the play, Medea, thus foreshadowing a violent end. "...About the women in Euripides," Claire explains to Angelo, "they were very modern, in their way. Very independent, very neurotic. But the thing about every one of them is that they took charge of their lives, they weren't passive, they did things. Think of Medea, for instance. Even killing seemed better than not living your own life."

Ultimately, this is a gripping novel. It lends itself to many questions about the human psyche, about alienation, about love, and about "madness". The writing is taunt and controlled, thus making its ending all the more shocking. L'Heureux slowly draws the unsuspecting reader into the drama between the principal characters. Although the violence is not gratuitous, I recommend it with a cautionary note. Difficult to put down, be prepared to read it in one or two sittings.

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