Dr. August Perlman lives a well-regulated life. His Clinic for Suggestive Therapy is tremendously successful--mainly because he never takes on a patient he isn't sure he can cure. His personal life is remarkably free of muss and fuss, and he likes it that way; in fact, the only passion he truly surrenders to is classical music, particularly the works of the late composer Alexander Barrett. The year is 1906 and the field of psychotherapy is still in its infancy, struggling to establish itself as a real science and not the redheaded stepchild of supernatural bunkum. Indeed, Dr. Perlman is especially sensitive to anything that smacks of the mystical, so when a young girl he has only reluctantly accepted as a patient suddenly starts channeling the spirit of a long-dead divinity named Oona, he is not amused: |
Perlman returned to his office. His medical journal was waiting there, opened to the page of notes he'd already begun. He wrote the time--11:30--but then he paused. His pen hesitated above the paper, as if to commit this evening's episode to ink were to lend it a credence it might not merit, and credence was the first step down many a wayward path.
The good doctor shakes off this brush with the supernatural and returns to his ordered ways, which includes a concert of music by Sibelius. While there, he is introduced to Helena Barrett, the sister of his idol, and finds himself simultaneously attracted by her beauty, intelligence, and wit and repelled by her obvious interest in spiritualism. His defenses against the unexpected already cracked, he is completely undone when a chance meeting between Helena and his patient leads him down a very wayward path, indeed. Soon Perlman is up to his neck in Theosophy, theatricals, and myths of the lost city of Atlantis--and battling his own unleashed desires even as he fights for the soul of his patient. Brooks Hansen's second novel is by turns humorous, suspenseful, and profound, a marvelous follow-up to The Chess Garden.
Source: Margaret Prior, Amazon.com.