The Magazine

Things Fall Apart

A woman's world is suddenly complicated.

Jul 28, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 43 • By DIANE SCHARPER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Lest Attachment degenerate into a romance novel, Fonseca inserts numerous literary allusions. She liberally quotes lines from Philip Larkin's poetry and from his memoir. She makes several lengthy references to Milton's "Paradise Lost," as she puns the notion of losing her island paradise home as well as the paradise of her marriage and her own state of innocence, and Mark's. About halfway into the story Fonseca alludes to the plot of Othello, suggesting not too subtly that the circumstances of Mark's letter may have been a setup similar to the circumstances surrounding Desdemona's strawberry-embroidered handkerchief--with, perhaps, Dan or Sophie or even Larry as Iago.

The reader gets it right away, but Jean doesn't. It's only on the final pages that Jean understands what's going on. But by then, this story of aging and adultery has begun to seem like an overly long game of "He loves me; he loves me not."

Diane Scharper is editor of the forthcoming Reading Lips and Other Ways to Overcome a Disability.