Tessa de Loo made her debut with The Girls from the Sweet Factory; her novels include Meander, Isabelle, The Smoke Sacrifice and The Miracle of the Dog. Her novel The Twins has sold over 35,000 copies in Arcadia's paperback edition. She lives in Portugal.
A woman falls in love with a man who may or may not be her brother in this searing novel by de Loo (The Twins), which traces the effects of WWII on a fractured Hungarian Jewish family. Like de Loo's previous work, this gripping, pared-down narrative hinges on a stunning coincidence. When the novel opens, narrator Kata R"szavlgyi, in her 40s, has just buried her father and is now "lying in bed with his son." Kata recalls growing up in Holland in the 1950s with a Dutch mother and Hungarian Jewish father, the latter a renowned composer. As a teenager she falls in love with another student named Stefan; as they grow closer, Kata learns that Stefan's mother, Ida Flinck, hid Kata's father from the Nazis during WWII. From there, the revelations pile up: Kata's father and Ida had become lovers while he hid in her house. To better protect him, Ida also began an affair with a Nazi officer. After the war, Kata's father abruptly left Ida. Soon afterward, Ida gave birth to Stefan. Is Stefan the son of the Nazi officer or the Hungarian Jew? As the novel moves toward a climactic encounter between Kata's father and Stefan, de Loo explores the legacy of the war-loss, guilt, families set adrift-for the generation of Europeans born in its wake. She handles the plot without melodrama, and her simple, deliberate prose and thoughtful compassion make this a virtuoso performance. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
'Details of time, place and atmosphere are acutely evoked, and the characters are presented with a generous sympathy that stops short of special pleading. Already a best-seller in the author's native Holland, the book deserves to become one here' - The Times 'Completely original...a fiction whose poise, compassion and breadth take the reader's breath away' - Joan Smith, Sunday Times
In the first paragraph of this slim but fiery novel, de Loo discloses the story's outrageous plot twist: Kata, the narrator, is in bed with her ostensible half-brother. What follows is a story that spans multiple decades from before the Holocaust to the present day with Kata and her Jewish relatives in Budapest and Amsterdam. Jeno, Kata's father, escaped death during the Holocaust when a Dutch woman hid him in her house. Consequently, he falls in love with his rescuer, but she forces him to watch helplessly as she has sex with a Nazi soldier. After the war, Jeno leaves the woman, not knowing that she was pregnant with a child whose paternity the novel leaves uncertain. Years later, the child, now fully grown, coincidentally crosses paths with Kata, his possible half-sister, and both are strangely attracted to each other. De Loo's second novel (after Twins, a best seller in Europe) is a morosely sublime tale of objectionable desire and the guilt that comes from being a survivor. Her world is dramatic and haunting, forcing readers to question the basis of their own morality. Despite the subject, it is not painful reading, but the unusual plot may limit interest. Recommended for public libraries.-Colleen Lougen, Mount Saint Mary Coll., Newburgh, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.