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The Legacy: A Novel Paperback – August 10, 2010

3.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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Review

“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)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143917718X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439177181
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,928,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Carla Ford VINE VOICE on August 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
Great novel about the mysteries of friendship and love. Julia and Ralph have been best friends for some time as students in Sydney. When Ralph's cousin Ingrid comes to live with Ralph's family, both Ralph and Julia are meeting her for the first time. Jealous of the bond Ralph and Ingrid form, Julia still can't help being drawn to Ingrid, and the three form a friendship that lasts until Ingrid marries and moves to New York. Although Ingrid disappears in the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center, it is a year before Julia goes to New York to learn about her friend's life there. Filled with examples of the intricacies of relationships, this novel examines the bonds that people form in friendships, casual acquaintances and intimate relationships. It really pulls you into the mystery surrounding Ingrid's last days, and her relationships in New York as Julia comes closer to solving her unanswered questions. A full cast of characters, some worthy of their own novels.
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By Jacqueline on September 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a bundle of conflicts. The first 180 pages were pretty good reading and I was preparing for a three star book. I liked Ingrid the most, her free spirit and delicate nature ensuring she was entertaining at all times. I didn't care for Julia, who seemed a closet goth, always slightly depressed and angst-ridden for no good reason. I particularly didn't like Ralph; there's just something so sad and pathetic about a man mooning after a girl who doesn't even know he exists.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Thanks to the publisher and goodreads for the free review copy.

The Legacy focuses on Julia, Ralph, and Ingrid, three (sometimes) close friends. When Ingrid disappears in New York after the events of 9/11, Julia heads to the Big Apple to investigate.

This book is an homage to The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James; Ingrid's situation mirrors in part Isabel's in Portrait. It's quite a high order for one's first novel to be inspired by a classic work, but the author's literary background certainly explains the aspiration.

The Legacy is sometimes too clever for its own good, particularly in the numerous literary and pop cultural references perhaps meant to serve as shorthand for evoking moods or feelings associated with those referenced works. That is not to say the author takes shortcuts; this novel is very luxuriously paced, with no sense of urgency.

Undoubtedly Ms. Tranter is a talented writer, and her descriptions are so vivid that I was present wherever Julia was. Nevertheless, an emotional disconnect forced me to distance myself. Yes, unrequited love can be romantic in its way, but all the pining described constituted the petulant sort. And for all the investigation that Julia conducts to find Ingrid, the journey is all about discovering Julia. That is not in itself an ignoble cause, except that we must care for Julia. I did not care enough for any of these people.

Three stars for the exquisite writing and admirable aspirations.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every now and then, a novel comes along that is addicting. Nothing else gets done. Dinner gets burned, if it is even made, phones aren't answered, and appointments are canceled. This is one of those novels. It is seductive, darkly sexual, haunting, and even frightening. You start waiting for the penny to drop, as the pages keep turning and the clues keep mounting. This is one very hypnotic novel.

After an enigmatic prologue, this noirish book opens in Sydney, Australia. The narrator, Julia Alpers, is a law student not committed to her studies at this time. We are brought up to speed with her current dilemma: whether to go to New York on her old friend Ralph's dime to investigate the last day's of Ingrid, who disappeared on 9/11 (a year ago from the current events), or to tear up the ticket and ignore Ralph altogether. A murky undercurrent presides as pieces of their relationship unfold gradually.

At a leisurely but still tight pace, we learn the background and history of the friendship between Ralph, Julia, and Ingrid. Ingrid was almost an anachronism, a Grace Kelly type with a combination of innocence and power. Ralph had that androgynous and sometimes diffident charm. The triangulation of their relationship was complex, and I liked that it was uncommon, even within a certain familiarity.

This is a story that turns like a screw, gets more and more tense, as well as cross-stitched and dusky. It is finely artistic, with enough literary and art allusions to give you goose bumps. As the editorial description states, there is an analogy to Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady (Penguin Classics) but it also imbibes other references.
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