Picks and Pans Review: Confinement

UPDATED 05/03/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/03/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

By Carrie Brown

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This beautiful novel maps the emotional life of a World War II refugee who becomes trapped in his new existence in America. Part Sophie's Choice, part Anne Tyler, Confinement follows Austrian Arthur Henning as he loses his wife and baby in a bombing and takes his son Toby to the suburbs of New York City to work as a driver for the cold, dysfunctional Duvall family. Arthur never develops a life of his own, but as nine years go by, Brown powerfully renders his more than fatherly, but chaste love of Aggie the Duvalls' only daughter. He's horrified to learn that Aggie is pregnant-and that the father is his own son now a teenager.

These revelations won't spoil the story since the twists come early and the novel looks back at them. Confinement's success is in its character study, the way Arthur's violence-studded memories mingle with quick bursts of hope.


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