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Perlman's Ordeal: A Novel

3.1 of 5 stars 3.10  ·  rating details  ·  60 ratings  ·  6 reviews
New York Times Notable Book of the Year

One evening in London in 1906, Dr. August Perlman--classical music lover, hashish devotee, and a scrupulously scientific pioneer of "clinical suggestion" (or hypnotism)--is about to leave for the symphony when a hysterical teenage girl is brought into his office. It seems that another girl's personality is living inside her. Eventuall
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 6th 2000 by Picador (first published 1999)
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I wanted to like this book so much. I have been fascinated by Victorian England, spiritualism, and classical music (with an emphasis on the Russians) for much of my adult life, and I figured this book would be right up my alley. However, though I devoured the first hundred pages within a short time, the rest of the novel began to drag. I found it so incredibly vague that I had a hard time following what was going on, and indeed, it made it difficult to even care.

I admit part of my problem may be
At times, a fragile spiral of a shell, holding attention, but allowing a scrutable "dissection." I found myself both deeply involved and at a distance from the life of the doctor. Mr. Hansen's word choice is beautiful, and worth the read simply to roll them around the mind. His description of music by the doctor early in the book is as well-written a selection as I have ever come across. Hansen brings the story to an end both mysterious and predictable. His doctor leaves the story a different ma ...more
Why doesn't everyone just read Brooks Hansen all the time. I admit a preference for "The Chess Garden," but this was still astounding and lovely. I mean, do you prefer "Top Hat" or "Shall We Dance?"

It also may be the Perfect Abigail Storm: troubled 13-year-old girl, Victorian England, supernatural events, fin de siecle spiritualism, and random & eloquent art criticism.
A very interesting work. Like Toole and The Neon Bible, it is hard to fairly assess a work when it looms in the shadow of the true greatness of another of the author's own works. I struggled between 3 and 4 starsfor this; probably 3.5 for me, but the benefit of the doubt must apply here due to the fact that this same man wrote The Chess Garden.
I really wanted to like this book more than I did, especially since The Chess Garden was so sublime. Perlman's Ordeal at least held my interest enough for me to finish it, but it didn't stick with me the way The Chess Garden does to this day.
Dec 28, 2012 Sue rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
Kind of a weird story. It is set back in the early 1900's when hypnosis was beginning to be used in treatment. The book was somewhat hard to follow. I'm not sure I liked it. A little girl is brought in for treatment and she appears to be possessed.
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