I wanted this book to be love at first sight. Instead it took more time - and some effort on my part too. All worth it for a deeper, more complex relationship - and an exploration of the darker side of love, guilt, pain and grief. A melancholy read, rich in language and dripping with atmosphere. Expect all the trappings of the Victorian gothic but with a more pervading sadness, except for Albína Horáková who is a joy and a true grotesque.
Do you see - there beyond the shinning window, coming down from the steps of the National Theatre; coming over the road, the tram tracks, the gleaming cobble stones; coming closer, with a steady implacable tread, with a head withdrawn inside a soft black hood, a watchful figure at the door? Well, perhaps the chandeliers are dazzling on the glass, the streets seethe and bustle, there are lovers on the Bridge of Legions. Certainly Helen sees nothing, because she has closed her eyes and is looking down a corridor. It is lined with cheap green tiles. At the end, in the wall, there is a place where a door has been taken from its hinges. On the threshhold there is an empty chair with a shadow on the seat; beyond the shadow, a room which is very hot, and very dark.