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Blood Hardcover – 1 September 2001
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The narrator, Norrie Blume, is a painter who has accepted a prestigious fellowship at the college; she's excited to leave her job as a commercial graphic designer and take up the artist's life. But she's also in the middle of an intense love affair with a married colleague, an affair that is threatening to consume both their lives. At Radcliffe, Norrie develops friendships with two other fellows, a journalist and a poet. One is deep, comforting; the other ruled by need and guilt. These three intense relationships quickly begin to infringe upon each other, and soon the four of them seem to be hurtling toward some shocking-and perhaps tragic-end.
Blood is a triumph of suspense writing, a true psychological thriller about the nature of desire and the danger of love.
- Publisher : Minotaur Books (1 September 2001)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 354 pages
- ISBN-10 : 031227484X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312274849
- Dimensions : 15.95 x 3.04 x 24.79 cm
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Traxler writes very well both about women who've decided to put work/art before marriage and children, and about female friendships. The descriptions of Norrie's different reactions to Clara and Devi, and where they eventually lead her, are brilliant, and the friendship between Norrie and Devi is beautifully captured, as is Norrie's increasingly tortuous relationship with Clara. Traxler also writes interestingly about how Clara and Devi's very different cultural backgrounds have shaped them. So, as an exploration of female friendship the book - if somewhat sensationalistic at times - is well worth a read.
However, I felt Traxler spoilt the novel by the plot strand involving Michael - not so much the scenario itself, but the character of Michael, and how he behaved. I'm well aware that many totally admirable people end up in Michael's situation through no fault of their own - but they would, I think, handle the situation better than Michael, whose behaviour towards Norrie I thought was horrific. He appeared to want to have his cake and eat it - to keep Norrie on the side as a mistress, while constantly refusing to explain the situation to his wife or get a divorce - even though he kept rather woodenly telling Norrie that at some point he wanted to make a life with her. And his constant self-pity (all that 'just put yourself in my position, it's so hard for me') got very monotonous, even repellent. If he felt it was so hard, why had he initiated the affair in the first place? For me, Michael showed his true colours when he threw a sulk when Norrie decided to spend an evening with Devi rather than hang around at home waiting for his possible call, and even suggested the women were lovers - after that. I couldn't believe that Norrie would continue to find him so special. The trouble was that I felt Traxler did intend us to feel that he was special rather than the bore he came across as being. The sections in italics (about Michael and Norrie's love life) were probably meant to enhance this, but they failed as they were so badly written compared to the rest of the book - rather like soft pornography in fact.
And the problem was that with the Michael and Norrie affair going round and round in circles, the rest of the story got overly compressed. We never learnt enough about either Clara's background (I think Traxler underestimated the effect of growing up in Pinochet's Chile on Clara - as indeed did the none-too-sympathetic Norrie), or Devi's (the stern father who insisted she had to marry an Indian man or not at all). The murder mystery was rushed, and it seemed hard to believe that Norrie would have only really got to know three women out of the Radcliffe Fellows. And the strands of story involving the older generation - Ida, the dying mother of one of Norrie's ex-boyfriends, and Norrie's own mother - never really got enough force to them, and just felt like afterthoughts. Luckily though Traxler did bring the book to a good ending - and I'm glad Norrie got a cat!
An inconsistent book then, sometimes very good, but often tedious. Nevertheless, I hope Traxler writes another novel - there's enough here that would make me interested to read it.
become unsettling to Norrie. I'm honestly baffled how any reader could describe this story's erotic content as "raw sex" without tenderness or romantic love. After all, sexual desire and deep romantic love are not mutually exclusive, and I think Traxler wanted to explore the ethics and conflicts of a love that is considered illicit, and to allow Norrie Blume, a decent and moral person, to do something that she knows very well is ethically questionable at best. That Traxler makes this moral quandary so very real and engrossing allows us to imagine ourselves in the protagonist's shoes, and invites us to question our own choices if faced with this dilemma. If you can say this is just a murder mystery, then you haven't understood the book at all. Too bad. Seriously''that's a shame.