Thursday, September 8, 2011

REVIEW: Minotaur, by Benjamin Tammuz

Minotaur, by Benjamin Tammuz. Published 2005 by Europa Editions.

Minotaur is a strange little book. Roughly speaking, it's the story of a woman named Thea as seen through the eyes of the men who love her at different points in her life. There's G.R., her ill-fated fiancé, a privileged young man who meets her at a party after admiring her from a distance. And there's Nikos, a Egyptian of Greek descent, a scholar who falls in love with her in England and wins her with stories of the Mediterranean. But through it all is one Alexander Abramov, an Israeli spy obsessed with the young woman, sending her letters and haunting her footsteps for years.

I have to admit this is one of the more unusual books I've read lately. The book is divided into four parts; for the first, we stick with Thea's relationship with Abramov from her point of view, then, little by little, we see how this man has infiltrated himself into every aspect of her life. They never meet, at least not as far as she knows, but he remains a palpable presence in her life until his death. Subsequent chapters cover her other lovers until the final chapter which focuses on Abramov's life's story and we learn what has made him this way.

I read the book knowing it was about a certain type of obsession and hoping to see some insight into the minds of the partners in this relationship-of-sorts. Benjamin Tammuz explores Abramov's character in detail, but Thea remains an enigma. I found it to be an absorbing and relatively quick read, suspenseful and intricately plotted. It's definitely difficult to put down, especially when the narrative turns to Abramov and his fascinating story. It's a fine, substantial novel that literary-fiction readers will enjoy, something pretty different from a lot of what's out there.

Minotaur counts towards the Europa Challenge. It's book 4 of 14 on my way to Amante level.

by Binyamin Tammuz
I'm a Powell's partner and receive a small commission on sales.

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.


ImageNations said...

A really unique novel. Just imagining having a love one you do not meet but whose presence is always felt in your life. How would such a person - the woman in this case - feel if she has to fall in love with a real person? Would she feel she's betraying an unseen lover? just thinking...

bermudaonion said...

This does sound unusual. I don't think I've ever read a book that was narrated by all the partners of a character.

Zibilee said...

It does sound as if this book is structured very differently, and that alone makes me really curious about it. I think the bit about how Alexander insinuates himself into Thea's life sounds very interesting and like something that I would want to find out more about. Like a lot of the books you review, this one will end up on my wish list. Thanks, Marie!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Hmmm. She must be one hot babe! Actually the book sounds creative, which I love. Need more of that.

BTW, I'm so excited I get to see you tomorrow! I'm glad it worked out, thanks to Dawn and her organizational skills. See you at 12:30!!

Anonymous said...

I am unfamiliar with this Europa so I am glad to read your review. I love how unique each Europa is, and this one seems no different.