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Mapping the Edge: A Novel
by Sarah Dunant
ISBN 0375503234 / 9780375503238 / 0-375-50323-4
Publisher Random House
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Sarah Dunant's Mapping the Edge explores the best of two worlds, offering readers a suspenseful, eerie plot and a delicately nuanced exploration of the kinds of prickly, challenging ideas that, sadly, usually lie outside the province of the traditional thriller.
When Anna decides to take an impromptu trip to Italy, she packs her bag, leaves her 6-year-old daughter, Lily, at home with close friends, and steps onto the plane. She's always been a woman of action, and her personal and professional lives have been filled to overflowing recently. So her friends Paul and Estella think nothing of the jaunt--it's a well-deserved break, a weekend for psychic refreshment, a brief step outside reality.
But a disappearance? When Anna fails to return, Paul and Estella make excuses, to themselves and to Lily. When the weekend stretches toward a week, the possibility of her permanent absence becomes hauntingly real. Dunant takes that absence and weaves together a pair of possible "explanations," playing out alternating scenarios of seduction (Anna in the throes of a disturbingly passionate, illicit affair) and abduction (Anna in the grasp of a stranger whose cordiality turns gradually to madness).
The narratives are both twinned and twinning, less separate alternative accounts than a dialogue, with moments, objects, and phrases that serve as uncanny mirrors between the two. Dunant is indeed a skilled mapmaker--her novel maps the edge of the self, its boundaries that so often go unquestioned. Anna's sojourn in Italy is an excavation of the threat of being defined by one's relationship to others and the temptation to redefine oneself beyond the restrictions of conventional expectation, no matter how seductive, how forceful, that convention. --Kelly Flynn [via]