The sequel to Sylvie Germain's highly acclaimed The Book of Nights (Godine, 1993; a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), Night of Amber continues the grotesque, fantastic, and riveting story of the Peniel family. It ranges from the terror and atrocity of the Algerian War to the frenzied Paris of May '68. Like The Book of Nights, which it brings to a dramatic conclusion, this is "an unusual and passionate" novel (Times Literary Supplement) that skillfully blends myth, history, memorable characters, and pure emotional intensity.
The hero of the novel is Charles-Victor Peniel, called "Night-of-Amber," whose lonely and angry childhood eventually lands him in Paris at the time of the May '68 riots. There, Charles-Victor becomes involved with a band of dangerous companions, and in a whirlwind situation that spins uncontrollably into sadism and murder.
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
French writer Germain's sequel to her award-winning Book of Nights continues the dense, demanding saga of the Peniel family up through the late 20th century. Charles-Victor Peniel, otherwise known as Night-of-amber-Wind-of-fire, is the first child born after WWII in the village of Blackland in the war-ravaged northeast of France; his older brother is the first to die, victim of a hunting accident at the age of eight. Neglected by his grief-stricken parents, Pauline and Baptiste ("Crazy-for-her"), Charles-Victor runs wild. When his sister, Ballerina, is born, he nurtures an incestuous passion for her, initiating her into his world of imaginary monsters and real-life terrors. Other members of the Peniel clan are haunted by their own demons: Thad?e, Baptiste's brother, was interned at Dachau and has adopted the children of a former comrade; "Heartbreaker," another adopted cousin, suffers the horrors of the Algerian War. And Night-of-gold-Wolf-face, the family patriarch, broods in the forest, siring two final sons as he awaits death. When Pauline finally commits suicide and Baptiste dies of grief, Charles-Victor goes to Paris to study at the Sorbonne, though he soon submerges himself in the Parisian demimonde. Tortured by his past, he tries to exorcise it in writing and sex, but as Parisian revolutionary fervor reaches its peak in May 1968, he is driven to sacrifice a submissive boy, Roselyn, in a sadistic murderous ritual. It is only years later, in Blackland, that Charles-Victor is presented with a chance for redemption, in the person of a small boy called Ashes. In her lurid, hallucinatory descriptions of Charles-Victor's transgressions, Germain conjures up a modern-day Maldoror; her branching histories of Peniel relatives twine into every corner of the narrative. Germain sometimes founders in her own excess, but nevertheless, this is a rich, penetrating and intoxicatingly unusual novel. (Sept.)
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Book Description DEDALUS LTD, United Kingdom, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: N/A. Brand New Book. Bookseller Inventory # AAO9781873982952
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