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Susan Daitch: L.C.

L. C. is Lucienne Crozier, a fictitious woman who lived during the 1848 French revolution. The book consists of an introduction by the fictitious Willa Rehnfield and Rehnfield’s translation of Crozier’s diary. To complicate matters, Rehnfield dies and Jane Amme, whose experiences in Berkeley in 1968 parallel Lucienne’s in Paris in 1848, takes over and tells us about Willa and how she, Jane, came to be in possession of the diary. What we learn of Lucienne is that she is a bourgeois woman who marries Charles Crozier for money (her family is broke). With her husband often absent, she befriends both the painter, Delacroix, and Jean de la Tour, a leftist. She is increasingly horrified by the treatment of people in France, including her husband’s employees, and becomes involved in the 1848 Revolution. When this fails, she flees with de la Tour to Algiers.

The skill of Daitch is the intermingling of the experiences of the three women, particularly Crozier and Amme (a pseudonym and obviously Emma spelt backwards). Amme had been raped and then, when the police did not believe her, took the matter into her own hands. Even during the 1968 revolt, she had been consigned to mundane tasks, as Lucienne had been. In short, feminism may have moved somewhat but clearly not enough. Added to the whole thing is the question of authenticity. How much of the diary is a correct translation and how much is invented or embellished by the two translators? Of course, we do not know and Daitch deliberately leaves us to doubt.

It is sad that this novel is not better known. Not only is it very skillfully done, it is an interesting feminist novel and a clever postmodern approach to both history and historical interpretation, leaving as many questions as answers. The three women, different of course, but with their similarities, are fascinating creations. In short, it should be better known.

Publishing history

First published 1986 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich