Sunday, 27 July 2014

Freud's Mistress by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

Vienna, 1895

The season for suicides had begun.

This is what I would classify as a great line by writers for writers. That's not to say that others won't like it, but I think this is a line that most writers would like. As well, this opening line works well in conjunction with the title. The mention of Freud and suicide has a decidedly pleasurable effect.

The next line introduces a scene of a woman writing at a desk, complete with a simile! Then the third line in the book employs the cliched weather report. Since it must be important, I will provide it here for your reading pleasure:

Outside, the sky was ashen gray. Since early November, the air had been bitter cold, and patches of ice had spread over the breadth of the Danube.

So weather introduces the river which introduces the fact that a young bride had just the other week jumped off a bridge, killing herself, with her body washing up, shrouded in white satin.

So the narrative text on the opening page is lyrical, but I'm asking the question: What does this have to do with the lady writing at her desk and as soon as I ask, it hits me, is this lady writing a suicide note? If so, this is a cool beginning. Unfortunately, by the third paragraph Ms. Pronoun is writing a letter to her sister asking for help and then cryptically the third paragraph and page 1 ends:

She would remember this day. It was the beginning.

So a little preamble is inserted assuring us not to worry, there is conflict and story to come, just not really on page 1.

Page 2 begins:

Two Days Earlier

The sky was raining ice...

Someone obviously has a weather fetish; however, the sentence ends well and indeed the weather in this case has some importance in establishing character:

...but the woman hurrying down the boulevard wore no coat or hat.

First thing said:

"Good evening."

I will give this opening a 50/50 rating for the opening line and title and the scene that emerges on page 2 of a frantic woman carrying a sick baby through bad weather.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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