Monday, September 28, 2009

Review: Playing House a novel by Fredrica Wagman

About the book from FSB Media:

When Playing House appeared in 1973, Publishers Weekly hailed it, "A probing descent into madness that will fascinate the same audience that appreciated I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." This nationally bestselling story of one woman’s struggle with the lasting effects of a childhood sexual relationship with her brother shocked American readers; it remains a literary work of enduring quality and value. In his foreword Philip Roth writes, "The traumatized child; the institutionalized wife; the haunting desire; the ghastly business of getting through the day -- what is striking about Wagman's treatment of these contemporary motifs is the voice of longing in which the heroine shamelessly confesses to the incestuous need that is at once her undoing and her only hope."

When I began this book I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
I knew it was about incest.
I quickly realized that I needed to put other thoughts aside to be able to fully grasp the story.
If you've ever read I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, or even to some extent, The Catcher In The Rye then you'll know what I'm talking about.
This novel is a first person narrative told by someone with a shattered psyche.
You hear the child and the woman's voices interwoven throughout the story.
The voice is different, yet it is one and the same.

I could feel the intense anger and the deep yearning for something that she could never get back. She could never rationalize her feelings, or the events that took place. In telling the story, she never tries to. She simply can't. Everything stopped for her.

While some readers may perceive that the narrator was longing for the taboo relationship she had with her cruel sociopath brother,
I felt that what she truly wanted was her childhood.
Unspoiled. Pure. Innocent.
She was never a child. But she also never matured.
Everything was frozen in time with her lost innocence.

While one is tempted to make the brother the one villain, the whole dysfunctional family dynamic comes into play in this tale.
The absentee father. The cold uncaring mother. The suicidal sister. They are not without blame. And one senses that they are also victims with their own stories to tell.
This narrative is a haunting portrait of one woman's life in a curious and sad limbo.

My thanks to Julie from FSB Media for my review copy.

About the Author:

Fredrica Wagman is the author of six previous novels. She has four grown children and lives with her husband in New York City.

For more information, view Fredrica Wagman's Web site


Caitlin said...

Sounds good, but also like a tough read.

mandatorybloghere said...

Oh This sounds good and I enjoy a tough read

Anonymous said...
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Dixie said...

Hmmm...Just deleted my first comment by a spammer-Guess this means I've arrived.