The Double Life of Liliane

Atlantic Monthly. Sept. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780802124029. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802190895. F
Winner of several O. Henrys, as well as a National Book Award for The News from Paraguay, Tuck here offers a fictional autobiography that presents her rich life in vignettes both personal and historical. Born in Paris in the late 1930s to German film producer Rudy Solmsen and his beautiful, difficult wife, Irene, the author was a bright yet shy child, shuttled between continents after her parents' marriage collapsed (her mother relocated to New York, her father to Italy). The metanarrative moves back and forth in time, entwining pieces of world history (Genghis Khan; Josephine Baker; Mary, Queen of Scots; and the mid-20th-century Mau Mau Uprising, to name but a few) with the intricate facts of Tuck's family tree, thus giving context to her private life as it shaped her professional career.
VERDICT Tuck remains one of America's most brilliant novelists and short story writers, and this distinctive work, penned with a masterly eye for details that speak volumes and illustrated throughout with intriguing uncaptioned photos, allows her literary gifts to come full circle. [See Prepub Alert, 3/30/15.]

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