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Confinement
Carrie Brown
Adult Fiction BROWN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

A Jewish refugee from Austria nurses a forbidden love for the much younger daughter of his American employer in this piercing, unusual novel by Brown (Rose's Garden; The Hatbox Baby) set in the suburban northeast in the years after WWII. Arthur Henning makes a hair-raising escape from Austria with his nine-year-old son, Toby, and later his wife, Anna, is killed in London in the Blitz. Haunted by memories of her and the trauma of Nazi persecution, Henning makes his way to the U.S., where he becomes the chauffeur and caretaker who tends to the estate of the Duvall family just outside New York. He finally channels his emotions into a deep love for the Duvall's precocious daughter, Agatha, after she becomes pregnant by an unknown suitor and is banished to a home for unwed mothers at the age of 17. Brown slowly develops their unusual friendship, rendering it in rich emotional detail. The edge in the plot comes from Henning's teenage son, Toby, who wants to see his father break away from the dysfunctional Duvall family and carve out a new life of his own. The final revelation regarding Toby's relationship with Agatha is fairly predictable, and some of the time shifts get a bit jittery when Brown dramatizes Henning's climactic separation from Agatha. But Brown's deft shaping of their unconventional love makes the novel haunting and memorable, and Henning's unusual decision to track the infant after Agatha gives birth adds some dark surprises down the stretch. Author tour. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Brown's latest novel (after The Hatbox Baby) deals with loss; the "confinement" of the title suggests not only the time spent by the teenaged Aggie at a home for unwed mothers but also the self-imposed confinement of the protagonist, Arthur, a Viennese immigrant who works as chauffeur and groundskeeper for Aggie's family. It's hard not to care about these likable characters, but, unfortunately, the book's structure impedes the momentum and the reader's emotions. Brown also overuses flashback, which constantly interrupts the flow of the narrative while giving away far too much in the opening chapters. We know almost all the essential plot elements up front, leaving little in the way of surprise or suspense for the last two-thirds of the book. Literary fiction should be more about character than plot, but not at the expense of storytelling. A marginal purchase.-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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more titles about

main characters Arthur Henning
Male
Austrian
His wife and infant daughter died in a London bombing in 1939; has worked for Aggie's father for seventeen years.
Chauffeur

Toby Henning
Male
Age: Teenager
Austrian
Arthur's son.

Aggie Duvall
Female
Age: Teenager
Privileged; daughter of Arthur's employer.



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