Anna, Ann, Annie: A Novel

Anna, Ann, Annie: A Novel ~ Thomas Trebitsch Parker

Changing her name to fit the altered circumstances of her life, the eponymous protagonist of Parker’s intriguing new novel is in search of her identity even while she desperately seeks–but never finds–the sanctuary of a loving relationship. Born Anna Moser in pre-WW II Vienna, she grows up in an affluent, cultured household destined to be riven by two events: her eccentric parents’ separation and the Holocaust. A talented pianist, Anna chooses not to pursue a career and for a time works as a servant for a London family–renaming herself Ann–but she returns to Vienna where she is raped by Nazi soldiers before escaping to America via marriage to a man she does not love. Buoyed by the promise of a new life, she leaves her first husband to marry another man, but that union too is fated not to endure, and in her 30s she ends up with a violent, gun-toting lawyer who calls her Annie. With each new incarnation, her life spirals downward. Novelist ( Small Business ) and nonfiction writer ( CEO ) Parker, notes that this book grew out of a compulsion to memorialize his mother, who “disappeared” when he was 15. Writing in a clear, restrained yet forceful prose, he relates his heroine’s odyssey in episodic fashion, creating vivid moments frozen in time, like snapshots. He invests these scenes with colorful sensory images: prewar Vienna–when Anna is young and full of assurance that she has power over her future–glows in a pastel light, but the tints darken with Annie’s loss of innocence, and the hues in the last part of the book, as Annie’s existence becomes degraded and her environment more grim, are dark and somber. Because the heroine is emotionally frozen–traumatized by the Nazi rape and the knowledge that her parents never loved her–she remains a somewhat shadowy figure, passive and aloof. Nonetheless, readers will be haunted by her tragic story.

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