Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Isabel Huggan. The Elizabeth Stories (1984)

     Isabel Huggan. The Elizabeth Stories (1984) As far as I can tell, Huggan is what is sometimes called a “one-book author”. Not that she wrote only this book, but that she hasn’t written much else. But this is a very good book, and deservedly gained her an international audience and reputation. The stories follow Elizabeth Kessler growing up in Garten from about age eight to eighteen. Huggan has the gift of conveying what it was like to be a child, and she has no qualms about revealing the intended and unintended evil that children can do. The result is intense stories than are not exactly comfortable to read, but which leave you with a sense of having met a real person, and knowing her somewhat better than you know almost every real person in your life. That includes you, because we tend to avoid remembering events and actions that damage our amour propre. The stories also show how adults misinterpret and misunderstand children, and how some children take advantage of this failing to cause trouble for their enemies.
     No one story stands out, they are all at a high level. I first encountered Jack of Hearts as a movie (Alliance Atlantis and National Film Board Canada co-production, not available). It tells how Elizabeth's aunt, a glamorous single “career girl”, visits and introduces Elizabeth to poker. Her sister and brother-in-law don’t approve, but it confirms Elizabeth’s desire to escape from Garten.
     Recommended. ***

1 comment:

Judy Martin said...

Isabel Huggan wrote Belonging - a memoir about her home in france - I have read that and also the elizabeth stories.

She is a good writer, thanks for reminding me.