Eight-year-old Maria bears witness to her family's peculiar comings and goings in early 1940s New York City and at bedtime listens to the haunting, exhilarating stories of husbands lost to the front and of a strange pact made in desperation between an exotic Hungarian countess known as the Rat and the mystic faith healer Grigori Rasputin. From award-winning poet Kathleen Spivack comes a spellbinding and surreal debut novel about a tangled web of European emigres--including the Rat's second cousin Herbert, a former Austrian civil servant now powerful in New York's social scene, the Tolstoi String Quartet, who escaped to New York with their money sewn into the silk linings of their instrument cases, a German pediatrician dabbling in genetic engineering--and the strange and intoxicating secrets that bind them to each other.
About the Author
KATHLEEN SPIVACK is an award-winning writer. She studied with Robert Lowell and remained friends with him for eighteen years, and is the author of many books, among them Moments of Past Happiness, A History of Yearning, and With Robert Lowell and His Circle. She has had residencies at the Radcliffe Institute, Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, and the American Academy in Rome, and has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright Commission. She teaches in Boston and Paris. www.kathleenspivack.com