Monday, 17 May 2010
The Illusionist by Jennifer Johnston
DATE PUBLISHED: 1995
DATE READ: May 2010
NOTES: I read some interesting reviews of Jennifer Johnston’s books and thought I would give her a try. She really is very good! The Illusionist is the tale of the relationship between Stella and Martyn. Even though she knows so little about him, she quickly falls in love with him and agrees to marry him. But as time goes on he reveals no more about himself.
But as the story of the marriage unfolds the book takes an unexpected turn. What it reveals is a bullying and abusive relationship – one in which Martyn’s powerful personality seems to overwhelm Stella. Their daughter Robin is included in the psychological drama – she is very much her father’s daughter and Martyn ensures that he has first place in their child’s affection. The subsequent betrayal of Stella by Robin is very disturbing.
We know that Stella escapes as the book begins with her living alone and looking back on her life. Alternate chapters are in the present and the past – a device that works well. A very touching story written without a surplus word. And it even has a satisfying ending!