Distantly Related to Freud
Ellen is the central hope of her mother and a motley family of refugees who washed ashore in Montreal after fleeing war-torn Europe.
Ellen’s best friend Lydia enjoys more freedom (or neglect) from her mother Magda who counsels the teenagers, “Sex is power.”
Magda, a fashion executive with a wealthy, married paramour who lavishes her with gifts and travel, is a living tutorial on being a femme fatale. Ellen tests Magda’s lessons during a summer with glamorous American cousins who are part of New York’s country club set.
Success has its consequences when she attracts the affection and the fraternity “pin” of a suitor. Ellen dispassionately loses her virginity but flees commitment.
Sex is power, indeed, but in a power play, the tables can turn abruptly. The shock occurs when Lydia is abducted. For several sickening days she cannot be found and is feared dead. The truth horrifies Ellen who learns other weapons in power’s arsenal are even more potent when wielded by a jealous, embittered wife.
Ellen’s explorations and astute comments guide us from post-war anxieties into the febrile sixties. Her cool distance masks her determined and endearing attempt at self-preservation and search for identity.
The art of the French formal garden and the spirit of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau inform this delightful and intelligent novel about a young woman who bewilderingly finds herself at an impasse.
Praise for Rousseau’s Garden
“A lovely gem.”
US Library Journal
“Its landscapes and characters will continue to haunt you, and its insights will continue to reverberate in your mind.”
Praise for Dobryd
‘An illuminating novel about an unusual place and time.”
US Library Review
“One of the best books on a European destiny in our century.”
Ann Charney was born in Poland, studied at McGill University and the Sorbonne, and lives in Montreal. The government of France named her Officier de l’Ordre Arts et des Lettres.
Ann Charney’s novels Dobryd and Rousseau’s Garden were published in the US, Canada, France, Germany and Italy. Her short stories have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Chatelaine, Paris Transcontinental, Saturday Night, Descant, Canadian Forum, and Queen’s Quarterly.