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Description - The Mark of the Angel by Nancy Huston

The year is 1957 and the place is Paris, where the psychic wounds of World War II have barely begun to heal. Saffie, a young German woman, becomes maid, then wife, to Raphael, a privileged French musician who finds her remoteness provocative and irresistable. One day in the old Jewish quarter of the city, where she has taken Raphael's flute to be repaired, Saffie meets a Hungarian instrument maker - and all their lives are unexpectedly, dramatically altered. Driven by passion but damaged in different ways by war, these two people find themselves crossing dangerous boundaries. Told against the rising tide of violence unleashed by the Algerian conflict, The Mark of the Angel builds to a shocking climax conveying the loss of innocence and the tragic irony of these lives twisted out of shape by the weight of history.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099283645
ISBN-10: 0099283646
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 17mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 24-Aug-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - The Mark of the Angel by Nancy Huston

UK Kirkus Review » 'We hop grotesquely through our time on earth one foot in our private lives and the other in the history of our century'. This is that Huston's bleak message to us in this novel - described by his publisher as a love story for the millennium: a story set in Paris (where it has been a bestseller), it explores an intensely sexual relationship between Saffie, a traumatized German girl who, as a child, saw her mother raped by Russian soldiers in Berlin, and Andras, a Hungarian flute mender whose sympathies are deeply involved with the Algerian Liberation Movement. The time is the 50s and, arriving penniless in Paris, the silent hard-working German beauty soon acquires a job as housekeeper to a successful young flutist, Raphael. He marries her and they have a child, but, as a concert performer he is much in demand and constantly travelling - so the affair with Andras has time to develop. The author, an American living in Paris, keeps her distance from her story - like a puppeteer she jiggles her characters to a bright little tune that we know is leading to a terrible conclusion. Lucidly written and startlingly convincing, this is a new voice to be listened to even if it warns rather than comforts. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Acclaimed Canadian-born Huston, a longtime resident of France (where this novel, her seventh, was originally published), debuts here with a melancholy tale of a proud French flutist and a Marxist Hungarian Jew who, in the late 50s, share a secretive German woman. As France's brutal war against its former colony Algeria erupts, the silent Saffie appears at Raphael's door in Paris in response to an ad for a maid; without saying much, she soon has the job. In fact, her diffidence so excites the passions of her young employer that he seduces her, then asks her to marry him - a change of status she agrees to. What doesn't change, even after their son is born, is Saffie's attitude: she still feels indifferent about Raphael, though she cares for him in the same obsessive way she keeps house, while Raphael takes inspiration from his little family on his way to becoming the most acclaimed flutist of his generation. Little does he suspect that an errand run by Saffie to the shop of his instrument repairman has resulted in her giving herself - body and soul - to the man there. She lives for the next tryst with her lover, Andras, and Raphael unwittingly obliges the couple with his frequent tours and lengthy practice sessions. Only to Andras can Saffie, the child of a Nazi veterinarian, talk about her wartime past: living near Berlin, bombs killing her best friend, she and her mother being raped by Russian troops, her mother committing suicide. But to Andras, as a Jew in Budapest during the war, such horrors pale next to his own family's suffering. What's more, as a dedicated Marxist in Paris, he moves in dangerous circles, helping the Algerians to bring the savagery at home back to France. Despite their differences, however, the affair prospers - until Raphael finally discovers what's going on and intervenes, with tragic results. A stylish, sophisticated story, complete with archly ironic narration, marred only slightly by an overly melodramatic end. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Nancy Huston

Nancy Huston is the author of the bestselling novel The Mark of the Angel (winner of the Grand Prix Lectrices d'Elle in France), as well as other award-winning fiction, including Plainsong (Governor General Award in Canada for fiction in French), Instruments of Darkness (Prix Goncourt de Lyceens), Slow Emergencies and Dolce Agonia. Born in Calgary in 1953, she went to Paris as a student in the 1970s and lives there still. She is married to the writer and intellectual Tzvetan Todorov and has two children.

Books By Nancy Huston

Black Dance by Nancy Huston
Paperback / softback, September 2014
Infrared by Nancy Huston
Paperback / softback, July 2012
Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by Nancy Huston
Paperback / softback, October 2008
Fault Lines by Nancy Huston
Paperback / softback, October 2008