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Andorra
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About the Author

PETER CAMERON is the author of several novels, including Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You and The Weekend. He lives in New York City.

Reviews

Concealing a dark fable about the transcendent power of the imagination within a slyly ironic tale about a man of refinement and vague intention traveling to a tiny European nation, Cameron's third novel (after The Weekend) displays his gift for language and narrative hijinks in fullest flower. The narrator, Alexander Fox, "compelled by circumstances to begin my life again in some new place," arrives by train in La Plata, the sun-splashed, oddly desolate, Monte Carlo-like capital of Andorra. He quickly becomes the cynosure of two contrasting La Plata families: that of neurotic Australian Ricky Dent, always accompanied by her large dog, Dino, who falls in love with Fox‘as does her husband, a troubled bisexual composer also named Ricky Dent; and that of kayaking La Plata doyenne Sophonsobia Quay, whose uncle Roderick leases his home to Fox, and who seeks to marry Fox off to her waifish daughter, Jean. We gradually learn that Fox, a former bookseller and architect, is fleeing a tragedy involving the death of his American wife and daughter. When he is implicated in a series of murders in Andorra and his passport is confiscated by the police, he is forced to flee the country. Fox, whose evasive speech and manners begin to follow a foxy pattern of self-delusion and caprice, is an extremely unreliable narrator. His Andorra, unlike the actual nation, is on the ocean. La Plata, a paradisial yet haunted landscape of dopplegängers and repetitions, increasingly appears to be little more than a projection of his own inner life. There's a delicate poignancy to this novel and to Cameron's surprising conclusion, as the glittering world of Andorra, which proves a consolation for the terrible reality of Fox's true circumstances, dissolves like a fantastic sandcastle in the face of real life. (Jan.)

"Wonderful...Mr. Cameron steers us through the final, fantastical events of Alex's story with an unfaltering hand." - The New York Times Book Review"

The key to Cameron's (The Weekend, LJ 7/94) delightfully quirky new novel lies in the epigraph to Part 1, a quotation from Proust's Swann's Way. "Even from the simplest, the most realistic point of view, the countries which we long for occupy...a far larger place in our actual life than the country in which we happen to be." Alexander Fox, Cameron's narrator, had once read a book set in Andorra (written, as it happens, by an author who had never been there), which triggered his imagination so much that when personal tragedy strikes, he decides to flee to this Andorra himself, hoping to leave his memories and his past behind. Once there, he encounters an eccentric cast of richly drawn characters‘from the kayaking matriarch Sophonsobia Quay, to the Ricky(s) Dent, an Australian couple fleeing their own demons, to the elderly Mrs. Reinhardt, who had been a friend of Rose Macaulay, the author of the book set in Andorra. He also finds, to his dismay, that he cannot entirely escape his past, that his life in this paradise of the imagination is becoming eerily reminiscent and that, again, he must flee. Cameron has created a stylish novel of deceit and desire with a twist at the end that makes it work all that much better. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/96.]‘David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersberg, Fla.

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