Books: Who Was That Funny Little Man I Married? ; the Darkness of Wallis Simpson by Rose Tremain CHATTO Pounds 14.99 Pounds 13.99 (P&P FREE) 08700 798 897
Pizzichini, Lilian, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Rose Tremain has used the New Zealand gold rush of the 1860s, 18th- century France and the Danish Court of King Christian as backdrops to some of her distinguished, prize-winning novels. Her exactness and lightness of touch in scene-setting are used to superb effect in her short stories, too.
The title story of this collection concerns Wallis Simpson, the twice- divorced American socialite for whom Edward VIII abdicated in 1936. But it also concerns the nature of memory, and the urgent, sometimes salacious, demands of storytelling. Wallis lies dying in her Paris flat. A mysterious lawyer has imprisoned her, and urges her to 'remember' every detail of her last marriage. This vulture- like 'man-woman' hovers over her, 'kissing her one minute, hitting her the next'. What is so compelling here is the way Tremain conveys the provocative selectiveness of forgetting.
This is a Southern belle, it seems, who never reconciled herself to sex with a man, who preferred to focus on 'buying candles in Harrods', and if she can't recall the 'dull little man' who gave her jewels and caviar, she never forgets her manners. Some things, the traumas of her formative life and her training in self-denial, go too deep to be forgotten. In Wallis's mind, Tremain shows, they blot out the inconsequential facts of her life. Her story, ultimately, is her own, and the voice Tremain gives her is poignant in its derangement and sharp in its indignation.
Tremain is restless in her exploration of voices. A bewildered East German border guard, redundant after the fall …
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Publication information: Article title: Books: Who Was That Funny Little Man I Married? ; the Darkness of Wallis Simpson by Rose Tremain CHATTO Pounds 14.99 Pounds 13.99 (P&P FREE) 08700 798 897. Contributors: Pizzichini, Lilian - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent on Sunday (London, England). Publication date: October 23, 2005. Page number: 19. © 2009 The Independent on Sunday. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.