The Silent Woman by Susan Dodd
A Novel

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Synopsis

In the summer of 1914, one month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the celebrated young painter Oskar Kokoschka was in the throes of a passionate love affair with Alma Mahler, the beautiful and seductive widow of the great composer. Now, four short years later, he has become a casualty of the Great War. Unlike many of his compatriots, Oskar has survived both a bayonet wound and mustard gas, yet he cannot seem to recover from his inconstant mistress's ruinous betrayal.With the world around him as crippled as his own body and spirit, the dispossessed refugee arrives in Dresden, where he has secured a teaching position. The director of the city's art museum, Hans Posse, a lonely widower, opens his home to Oskar, offering him a sanctuary in which he can begin to heal and eventually paint again, fulfilling the promise of greatness begun in his youth.For Oskar, however, the war continues to rage without and within, There is simply no life without his beloved Almi, his tormentor and muse, now another's wife. Determined to have her -- somehow -- the grieving artist turns to his host's servant, the shy, reserved Hulda. Shrouded in sadness, the tender young woman reawakens in Oskar desire -- and the passion of creation. But their secret liaison is fueled by Oskar's preoccupation with his lost love, a dangerous obsession that could carry him -- and the innocent Hulda -- beyond hope to a place of no return.A luminous novel of hallucinatory prose set in a time of uncertainty and unimaginable loss, The Silent Womanpulls into focus a world of color, shadow, and heartbreak. Vividly bringing to life the ever-changing nature of desire, the constancy of love, and the illusiveness of memory, it is a sublime work by a uniquely gifted author that celebrates the power of beauty, passion, and hope to hurt and to heal.
 

About Susan Dodd

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Susan Dodd has taught at Bennington, Harvard, and the Iowa Writer's Workshop.
 
Published October 23, 2001 by William Morrow. 336 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Silent Woman

Kirkus Reviews

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Dodd takes a sliver from the life of expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980) and creates an odd, claustrophobic fictionalized biography.

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Publishers Weekly

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Dodd's writing has always been graceful, but here she reveals a brilliant visual imagination, expressed in intensely vivid descriptive passages that reflect the personality of an artist striving to express his creativity.

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