An autobiography of author Marina Jarre, based in her native Latvia during the 1920s and 30s and expanding southward to the Italian countryside. Jarre depicts a multinational and complicated family: her elusive, handsome father, her severe, cultured mother, and her sister and Latvian grandparents.
A memoir that shuns linear chronology in favor of personal and historical musings, from sibling rivalries to the Easter Massacre ... Although written in lucid, luminous prose, much of the book implies rather than states ... The book demands a...commitment to perpetual rereading and a willingness to leave mysteries unresolved ... Her book is itself in many ways a sealed letter. We can sense something important inside the envelope, but we never get to learn exactly what that is ... [There are] many points of luminescence scattered like seashells through Jarre’s verbal littoral ... As irruptions into the void formed by the memoir’s elliptical narrative, however, they create a pointillist effect, requiring an active viewer to make sense of the radiant light show. Marina Jarre’s struggle to find fitting words flashes through the murk.
[A] kaleidescopic memoir ... While the fragmented structure requires close reading, Goldstein’s analysis of Jarre’s method, as provided in a translator’s note...will help readers appreciate her lyrical prowess. Those willing to embrace nonlinear storytelling will be taken with Jarre’s haunting prose.
This book is more concerned with time and perspective than narrative storytelling, though Jarre is...like Ferrante in her lack of nostalgia and unflinching focus on the difficulties of relationships. Connoisseurs of literary memoir will enjoy Jarre's precise way of capturing emotional experiences.