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The Legacy: A Novel Paperback – August 10, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This hypnotic debut from Australian author Tranter pays homage to Henry James's A Portrait of a Lady while offering a suspenseful story line worthy of Patricia Highsmith. Gorgeous, wealthy Australian Ingrid Holburne takes a break from her college studies to attend the Venice Biennale, where she meets much older art dealer Gil Grey, who manages the career of his artist daughter, Fleur, 13 and a child prodigy. After a whirlwind courtship, Ingrid marries Gil, to the dismay of Ingrid's close half-cousin, Ralph, and their mutual friend, Julia Alpers. When Ingrid apparently perishes in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, Ralph, still grieving almost a year after September 11, asks Julia to go to New York to learn more about what happened. What Julia uncovers is a rat's nest of clues that slowly and seductively drive the action to a shocking conclusion. While Tranter's sedate pacing avoids typical thriller antics and conventional crime plot twists, she raises some wickedly keen questions about art world wheeling and dealing.
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“Australian author Tranter makes her splendid debut with this novel about friendship, love, abuse and deceit.... Tranter’s writing is as rich and luxurious as heavy, expensive brocade. The characters’ names and many aspects of the plot will remind readers of Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady.... It’s a goldmine of literary references, and finding them can be both fun and challenging. A promising beginning to what will undoubtedly be a successful writing career.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“This hypnotic debut from Australian author Tranter pays homage to Henry James's A Portrait of a Lady while offering a suspenseful story line worthy of Patricia Highsmith.... While Tranter's sedate pacing avoids typical thriller antics and conventional crime plot twists, she raises some wickedly keen questions about art world wheeling and dealing.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
"A gripping and deeply moving novel." —The Australian Literary Review
“I don't know where I've read a better evocation of the unbearable pain of unrequited love than in the measured rhythms and cadences of Tranter's prose.... The Legacy is so accomplished, it's difficult to believe it's a first novel... It demands your full attention and only reluctantly releases you from its clutches to go about your daily life. It's the kind of novel that makes you wish for a mildly debilitating illness to keep you in bed for a couple of days.” —The Australian Literary Review
“Full of suave and stunning evocations of Sydney and Manhattan, this sparkling and spacious novel captures the smell and sap of young people half in love with everyone they’re vividly aware of, and groping to find themselves like the answer to an erotic enigma.” — Peter Craven, The Monthly (Australia)
“The most satisfying novel I’ve read all year." —Bookseller + Publisher (***½ stars)
“An intelligent and engaging novel that is dense, intricate, detailed, acutely observed, and beautifully written in a voice that is measured and consistent from start to finish.” ”—Debra Adelaide, author of The Household Guide to Dying
“Fans of literary mysteries will enjoy this intricate, fascinating, and original novel. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred)
Top customer reviews
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Part two of the story became quite dull, with the storyline now resolving solely around Julia and her melancholy wanderings around New York. It was all very bland tastes and grey skies. Also a lot of unnecessary characters hindered the flow of the storyline. Matt, the sort of flat-mate who pops in and out of the apartment at random intervals, and Mrs. Bee, the tea leaf reading hippie could have been cut out entirely; they brought nothing to the story. There were also several other characters, school friends and colleagues of Ingrid's I felt where pointless.
Once again I think the story should have been written by the most interesting character rather than the most boring. Julia was bland. Her strange relationship with Ingrid and Ralph made her seem like the outsider, never destined to fit in. She loved them both and at the same time didn't care for them. She didn't seem to care about anything, her work, her studies. I think she wanted to be Ingrid, not like her, be her, and that was the real reason she went to New York.
Ingrid was the star and should have been the lead. I felt dissatisfied with the tiny snippets of her life we were given. It was the same when I read 'The Poison Tree' by Erin Kelly. Had this story been written by the perspective of Ingrid it would have taken a good book and taken it to a whole new level. I wouldn't have minded a bit more Fleur even, something to break up the melancholy. Instead Julia's sad, depressive ways set the mood for the book and never changed. And I still don't know why she stole things. It was a pointless inclusion. Someone told me it was a metaphor for her snap indecisive life choices; what rubbish. Tranter needed to cut two thirds of this book out and give Julia some uppers.
Finally, the ending. What ending?
Ralph, never happy with Ingrid's marriage to Gil and unable to move past the pain of her death, convinces Julia to travel to NYC one year later to uncover any anomalies in Ingrid's life. Julia talks to fellow students and teachers at Columbia where Ingrid was a classics scholar, persons in the art world, Ingrid's step daughter Fleur, an artistic prodigy, and Gil. Seemingly innocuous papers, photographs, even medical reports, in addition to references to her despondency from her acquaintances, raise Julia's suspicions. Apparently, Gil's life, past and present, is not entirely as he would like it to be seen.
The story is told entirely from Julia's perspective. But she is a rather vague, inconsistent presence, seemingly overly timid and unfocused one moment and capable of being willingly seduced in a heartbeat the next. Frankly, all of the characters seem a bit abbreviated, moved on and off the stage too quickly. The author does include bits of the cultures of Sydney and NYC, focusing on weather and architecture. It seems like Julia is constantly in a seedy bar or a coffee shop, one of which seems especially relevant in her mission of discovery.
Determining what happened to Ingrid is ostensibly the main concern of the book, but of perhaps greater interest is the nature of the various relationships. The triangle involving the Sydney friends was an opportunity squandered by the author for elaborating on such arrangements. And Julia's hesitancies and awkwardness seem almost puzzling. Despite less than stellar writing in these areas, the book does evince a certain sensuality. All in all, an interesting story, but not gripping.
Most recent customer reviews
Superficially this debut novel is a contemporary version of Henry James's Portrait of a Lady.Read more
The Legacy focuses on Julia, Ralph, and Ingrid, three (sometimes) close friends.Read more