Justine by Alice Thompson

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Synopsis

A challenging, chilling postmodern novel that explores the ill-defined margins between imagination and reality, sanity and madness. This story of seductive decadence plays on the Marquis de Sades work of the same name. It chronicles one mans obsession with beauty and his journey, through the darkest recesses of the mind, in its pursuit. An unnamed compulsive art collector becomes fascinated by a womans portrait, one marked with a simple plaque that reads Justine. Searching London for the object of his desire, he finds two women: Justine, a chiseled beauty, and her identical twin, Juliette. Rich in literary allusion, full of twists and turns, Justine, will appeal to readers looking for a challenge and a thrill. With her first novel, the young Scottish writer Alice Thompson performs a bold experiment in the neo-Gothic, spinning out an extravagant tale that charts the borders between contempt and desire. Set in contemporary London, Justine chronicles one mans obsession with beauty and his journey through the darkest recesses of the mind in its pursuit.A sensitive art collector, nameless throughout, becomes enchanted by Justine, the portrait that hangs above his mantel. Enthralled, he spends hours in his flat, smoking opium and watching the beautiful woman in the painting, her hard pale eyes, set wide apart in her face. The image comes to life, sometimes watching him coyly from a formal garden, sometimes glaring at him from a shadowy room. Searching London for the object of his ravening desire, he finds on separate occasions two women: Justine, a refined and chiseled beauty, and her identical twin Juliette, a complex and reckless woman who seems driven by rage. He is never sure when or where he will see them, and they never appear together. As the story unfolds, he finds it increasingly difficult to know the true identity of the evasive and evanescent woman he desires, and his vivid opium-seasoned hallucinations become indistinguishable from reality. In exhilarating short chapters that take him through a morphing landscape, our narrators nightmare builds to a violent and haunting climax.Ruthlessly clever, Justine ropes in references from the Marquis de Sade and Milton, from Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and Alfred Hitchcock. Playfully twisting and teasing Sadean conventions to suit her purposes, Thompson sets up a labyrinth of tricks and tropes that inevitably lead us to a place where our familiars--gender and power, passion and violence--are not what they seem.
 

About Alice Thompson

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Alice Thompson is an award-winning, high-profile author with an international reach and extensive publication record as a novelist and reviewer; she is also an experienced tutor in both creative writing and literature. In the eighties she toured the world in the successful pop group The Woodentops; recorded three albums, six singles, and two videos; performed on stage and often gave interviews, both on TV and radio. This is her sixth novel.
 
Published January 1, 1997 by Virago Press Ltd. 137 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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It is like Michelangelo’s Adam reaching out to God— —), ends up tricked, then tricked and tricked again not only by Justine but by Justine’s twin sister Juliette, even to the point of committing a murder (uh-huh, it’s very, very, very gory) in order to ’save— Justine from a murderer of her own—th...

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Publishers Weekly

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A postmodern, feminist variation on the Marquis de Sade's book of the same name, this American debut from Scots writer Thompson is a compelling, though abstract, meditation on identity and desire. The

May 04 1998 | Read Full Review of Justine

The Guardian

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Daphne by Justine Picardie Find this on the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop It is the gulf between who people are and who they think they are that fa...

Mar 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Justine

Newstalk 1010

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles MansonJeff GuinnNon-fiction, Biography Jeff Guinn describes “Charlie” Manson as “the wrong man in the right place at ...

May 04 2012 | Read Full Review of Justine

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