After her mother breaks her neck, falling down a marble staircase, Esther goes to Paris. Amoral, (perhaps justifiably) paranoid, Esther is a survivor, but on her first night in a city made of river and rain, she is seduced by the elusive and phantasmal Julie d'Ouest. Though previously often raped and manhandled, never before has the jaundiced Esther known sexual pleasure. What can she do, but set off in pursuit of this demon lover, across a landscape mazed with all the helpers and hinderers of a mythic quest. Yet, as the narrative unfolds, threading between England, France before the wars, and Egypt apparently at the turn of the century, the text seems flavoured with anachronisms, discrepancies. Is Esther, writing from a later, modern era, (under the eye of her put-upon sister, Anna) letting her memory play tricks on her? Is the world of her recollection real - or is it a game, a dream, an escape from illness and frustration; the land of What-might-have-been.
Used availability for Tanith Lee's Thirtyfour
April 2004 : UK Paperback